It’s time for the national pastime.
Producing runs can be a challenge, so let’s try to help coaches come up with ways to score runs.
Let’s start with the basics: Scout your opponent.
During pregame fielding drills, see which players have strong arms and devise your baserunning philosophy around it.
Try to take the extra base against outfielders who have weak arms or throw improperly.
By throwing improperly, I mean not throwing the ball overhand. Any outfielder who throws three-quarter arm or sidearm will have tail on their throw so they probably won’t have an accurate arm.
If the third baseman has a poor arm, bunt on him.
Early on, see where the opposing fielders are playing. If the third and first basemen are deep, bunt on them or at least fake a bunt to draw them in and open up more hitting space.
If the second baseman, shortstop or third baseman are daydreamers or play way off the bag, make a mental note for base-stealing purposes.
Obviously, check out the catcher’s arm and the amount of time it takes a pitcher to deliver a pitch.
You don’t have to have a lot of speed to steal bases. You just need to teach proper baserunning techniques.
Be aggressive but smart on the bases. Make the opponents uneasy and feeling they have to rush their throws.
If you’re stealing a base, your lead should be big enough to require a dive back into the bag on a pickoff move. You have three things to watch for if you’re trying to steal: The pitcher’s front foot, front knee or front shoulder.
As soon as the foot, knee or shoulder turns in toward the body at the start of the delivery, you’re off. And don’t look back!
On a delayed steal, time it up so that as soon as the ball leaves the catcher’s hand en route to the pitcher, take off.
Teach your players how to slide properly. If they insist on sliding head-first, make sure they close their hands or they’ll risk injuring a finger.
Look to tag up on routine fly balls if the outfielder has a poor arm or makes a catch that takes his momentum away from the bag.
Teach your players to run on the balls of their feet where the toes join the rest of the foot.
Teach them to bunt!
Square to the pitcher with the bat extended and use the legs to go up and down depending on where the ball is pitched. Let the bat hit the ball and angle the bat where you want to drop the bunt down. Don’t punch at it!
Remember, the threat of a bunt is nearly as effective as the bunt itself because it forces the first baseman and third baseman to come down the line, which opens up more hitting space.
Don’t forget the slash (square around to bunt and then pull the bat back and try to punch the ball through the rotating infield).
Here’s a few hitting tips: Line up the top knuckles on each hand. It feels awkward at first but gives you better bat speed and also serves to loosen your hands.
Stand in the back of the box against someone who throws hard and up in the box against someone with a good breaking ball.
If you’re constantly hitting the ball into the ground, you are probably turning over your top hand thus rotating the bat downward.
If you’re constantly hitting lazy fly balls, you’re probably dropping your back shoulder.
Go out and score some runs!