Core Training

How to Become a Smart(er) Base Runner in Softball

Scoring runs is critical to the success of softball teams. The whole offensive side of the game is designed by coaches to put runners on base, to move them into scoring position, and to find a way to push as many runners as they can across the plate. Baserunning is one of the most overlooked skills and the least practiced position in softball.

Softball players don’t have to be fast to be a good base runner. Having speed on the bases is definitely an advantage, but it’s more important that base runners are smart. Becoming an intelligent base runner takes time, practice, softball knowledge growth, and live game experience.

Below is a list of five skills softball players can use to become smarter base runners.

Know the Outs: It’s vital that base runners know how many outs there are at all times when they are on the bases. It’s essential that the first base and third base coaches communicate with their baserunners every pitch. It is common to see a base runner flash the number of outs to either of the coaches on the field while they are on the bases. This helps keep the base runner focused and mentally in every pitch. They will also react and know the situation each ball put into play will result in, if they are actively paying attention.

Master Lead Offs: The leadoff gets everything going when a player is on the bases. Base runners should position themselves in a sprinter start position as the pitcher takes the mound. The written rule is that base runners cannot lead off the base until the ball leaves the pitchers hand. It all comes down to anticipation and focus by the base runner to be on time every single pitch. It is encouraged to practice lead offs by using a team’s pitcher in the circle and runners on base. If a runner is caught leaving early by the umpire, she is out and must leave the bases.

Round the Bases: There are many different base running rounding methods being taught in softball. It all depends on what the coach chooses to teach his/her players. Players will always get to the next base the fastest by running in a straight line and sliding straight into the base. When there is a ball hit to the outfield, players will likely advance to more than one base. Rounding will keep the player’s momentum going, versus running straight towards and base, having to stop, and start up again. It’s important that base runners identify multiple base situations and execute the proper rounding strategy their coaches have taught them.

Tag Up: Tagging up occurs in softball when a runner or runners on base advance to the next base on a ball hit in the air, often to the outfield, with less than two outs. The runner must be in contact with the base they started at and wait until the ball is caught, before advancing to the next base. Executing a tag up and advancing to the next base to get into scoring position, puts the offensive team at an advantage. Coaches can practice tagging up in full team defensive situations with balls hit to the outfield and runners on base.

Slide: There are many different types of sliding methods in softball. There is a straight in slide, a hook slide, a wrap-around slide, and a headfirst dive, just to name a few. It’s important that base runners practice sliding and reading the defensive players when they approach a base. Sliding into a base could result in being called safe and keeping a base runner on base. Sliding also benefits the player because it keeps them low and they will be able to avoid a tag. Players who go full speed and don’t hesitate while sliding is more likely to reach the base safely.

Fastpitch News ® (FPN) is dedicated to covering the sport of Women’s Fastpitch Softball. FPN provides news, analysis, opinions and coverage of College, High School, Professional and International Fastpitch leagues and organizations.


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