Base running is more than just a jaunt from base to base. There are countless situations and nuances for players to think about.
There’s stealing, knowing when to take the extra base on a hit, and many other complex scenarios. While some coaches might want to practice each situation individually, there is a way to combine all the facets of base-running into one drill.
Dan Keller, a youth coach in Southern California and creator of the free baseball coaching resource Dugoutcaptain.com, recommends a fun, easy drill that combines all of these elements. It's called Around the World - 3 Runners. Besides saving practice time, it offers other advantages.
“It engages more athletes, with less standing around,” Keller said. “(It also) trains multiple base-running moves simultaneously.”
How The Drill Works
This drill begins with all athletes, standing side-by-side, behind home plate.
The first athlete steps forward to the batter’s box, and he begins the drill by running from home to first, making sure to run all the way through the bag. That athlete stays at first base. The runner next has to try to steal second.
Now, it’s time for the second batter to step to the plate and run from home to first. Each athlete then stays at their respective base.
This cycle continues. The first runner, now on second, goes to third. The second runner goes from first to second, and so on. This drill can take about 15 minutes to complete and involve the entire team.
This drill incorporates normal base running fundamentals but can also teach the basics of stealing. The runner from first base can practice leading off and preparing to steal second. The runner at second base can practice the secondary lead and tagging up on a fly ball.
More advanced players can practice running in different scenarios, too.
Keller said one of the keys on this drill is strong coach instruction. The coach should be giving directions to each runner. While it's ideal for there to be a coach giving instruction at each base, this drill can be done with just a single coach. In that case, he or she should stand at the pitcher’s mound and give out directions to players.
While Keller has mainly used the drill for the 6-and-under level, it can easily be adapted for older players. For example, the process of advancing from base to base can be altered using different combinations, such as a base hit turn instead of a hard 90-degree angle from home to first.
Overall, this drill provides a chance for players to work on all of the different base running fundamentals. It also provides more game-like action for many different age groups.
From GameChanger and Stephen Kerr
Check out other drills here.