Lead Off & Go!

Rickey Henderson stole 1,406 bases over his 24-years in the MLB. Photos Courtesy of MLB Properties

In the past we've looked at the transition from batter to base runner and how to slide. Today we’re taking a run around the bases with drills and tips for everything from getting to the bag safely to stealing them if you like.

This first drill takes you from home plate to 1st utilizing three separate turns to ensure you're ready for every fielding situation that might take place as you travel to the bases.

One of the most important things to do when running between bases is to be efficient with the energy spent getting from one bag to the next. This video takes you through two drills designed to improve your body mechanics as you run.

Leading off any base is a tough thing to get right. Besides footwork and hand position, there is timing and distance from the bag to master. Before we take you from 1st to 2nd, let's make sure you've got a solid understanding of how to properly lead off a base.

The lead off has two purposes. From an offensive perspective, it allows you to be a few steps closer to the next base when the ball is put in play. Those steps can be the difference between arriving safely and being called out.

The second purpose is strategic. The more a player can distract the defense, get them thinking more about whether you might try to steal, the more likely the pitcher is to throw poorly. If the catcher has their eye on you there is a better chance that a passed ball might occur, especially on an errant throw because they are expecting the ball to arrive where they've called for it.

The Munich Haar Disciples Baseball Academy walked us through a lead off and secondary drill to help your team become better base runners.

Every base creates a unique view of the field and an entirely different set of circumstances for the runner. Now that you have the basics down it's time to take a look at what changes when you lead off at 2nd.

In the video he mentions making a sharp corner, rather than rounding, at second. The following drill will help runners make this a part of their normal run pattern between 1st and 2nd base.

Now that we've got you safely at 3rd it's time to learn a bit about how to lead off the base without jeopardizing your position as you wait for your opportunity to score.

Finally, we’re leaving you with a basic drill that covers the duties of the lead runner when crossing home. It’s quick and to the point and it speaks to our favorite topic of safety first!

It might seem elementary but it is important to review the basics so that they stay in your muscle memory. That’s how you keep your game sharp.

Stealing Bases

Now that we've got the mechanics and drills of leading off handled, it's time for the fun stuff. We're talking about base stealing.

There is often that one person on the bench who is a stronger runner than the rest. If wheels alone were all it took to successfully steal bases, you’d see a lot more of it on every level of play.

Leading off is designed to benefit the runner but it only works if they land safely on the next bag. Most often, it is used to help a runner get a jump toward the next base on a routine play.

Before you decide if you’re fast enough to steal them all, let’s take a look at the science behind the stolen base to determine whether you are fast enough in relation to all the other elements a base runner should be taking into consideration.

Without a strong lead, you will never be able to steal. The first half of the next video is a leads review. Afterwards, he's got some tips for reading the pitcher that will help on the steal.

You’ll notice that this video, and the one that follows, take you through the lead mechanics promoting a right foot first step off the bag. Our lead videos promoted left foot first. Both variations bring you to the same spot in the lead process so follow your own body, and your coach’s lead, to find the process that works best for you.

Though physically similar to the video you’ve just watched, this next clip takes you through the mental aspects of stealing a base from lead to follow through. It also has some additional visual aids, so give it a look and make sure you haven’t missed anything. After all, practice makes perfect right?

There you have it, drills and tips for getting from the plate around the bags and into home safely.

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