The shortest distance between point A and point B, is a straight line. A simple mathematical formula which we accept as true, but is it true in all situations? Does baseball occasionally tend to bend the laws of physics?
I am reluctant to say baseball does not adhere to basic laws of physics and mathematics, but sometimes baseball applies it’s own logic, in conjunction with other laws, and running the base paths is one such example.
Based on logic, the quickest and most efficient method of running the bases is to exit the batters box and take a straight line to first base, make a 90 degree turn at the base and proceed in a straight line to second base, and so on and so forth until re-reaching home plate, a journey of 360 feet.
The only problem with this method is, it’s Impossible for the human body to achieve such 90 degree turns without stopping, or at least slowing to a crawl, which defeats the entire intent of safely and quickly reaching the farthest base possible. Is there a way to run farther than 360 feet, in a shorter time span? Perhaps illogically, the answer is a resounding Yes.
How to run 390 feet faster than 360 feet. The human body is an amazing machine capable of accomplishing astonishing feats, but it also has its limitations, and that’s where technique becomes important. Proper technique allows the body to overcome it’s limitations and actually become strengths, which is what proper base running techniques accomplishes.
I’ll never forget my first minor league coach telling me he always taught a new skill as if the student had no idea what he was talking about, which helped eliminate any confusion. Bear with me if I seem elementary, but I adopted his coaching style, thus the steps listed below.
1. The very first issue in proper base running has nothing to do with speed of foot, but rather speed of mind. The body reacts as quickly as the mind tells it to, therefore making quick decisions ahead of the required task allows the body to react at peak efficiency.
When coming out of the batter’s box, for our illustration we’ll assume the ball was hit to the outfield, our eyes must go from tracking the baseball to immediately picking up your first base coach. We should be between one-half and two-thirds down the first baseline, running in foul territory.
2. As you see the first base coach indicate he wants you to advance to second base, you will gradually swing (run) towards the first base dugout, in a backwards C motion, which will result in you approaching first base in, more or less, a straight line with second base. Hit the base with your right foot on the inside portion of the base, which will propel you towards second base.
Do Not alter your steps or speed in order to hit the base with your right foot, or the inside portion of the base. This is the optimum method of running, but the main goal is to not lose speed and to take a direct path to second base.
3. As you are running to second base, quickly pick up your third base coach, who will be directing you as to what to do. If the play is in left or left center field you may be able to see the handling of the ball and decide on your own whether to stop at second or continue to third.
However, if the play is in right or right center field, you’ll have to crane your neck trying to locate the ball, which turns your shoulders and slows you down. You must rely on your coach in this scenario. Being waved on to third base, swing slightly into right field, again a backwards C, hitting the base with either foot and pushing off in a straight line to third base.
4. Inside the park home runs are very rare, but in little league, quite possible. Being waved on to home, take the same backwards C, swinging towards left field, hitting the base with either foot and taking the direct path home.
1. Always slide into home plate. Number one you won’t be fooled by a catcher who is acting as if there is no play, when in fact the throw is quickly gaining on you.
2. There’s less chance of being injured if your mind is preparing your body to slide as practiced, instead of a panicked last second awkward slide attempt.