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A fastpitch softball base running drill is good for much more than conditioning. If you have been here long, you know that we believe baserunning skills and drills are a critical part of the game of fastpitch softball.
Unfortunately, this is an area that is often under-taught and under-appreciated at the youth levels and above.
The first step is to teach the fundamentals of baserunning. The second step is to teach your players how to be appropriately aggressive based on your philosophy and the game situation.
In todays post we are sharing fastpitch softball base running drills that will help reinforce proper fundamentals. And beyond that they can help develop an aggressive mindset in your players (when done correctly)!
This is a great "all in one" baserunning drill that works great for fastpitch softball. Your team can work on steal jumps, tag-ups, lead-offs, and returns all at once.
Your players will get lots of reps of multiple skills in a short period of time...which is what makes this a great drill!
Watch the video with Coach Ritchhart and his college softball team below.
To recap the video, in this drill you will have 4 lines, all working on different aspects of baserunning from second base.
The first line is going to work on straight stealing. The runner will run in a straight line from point A to point B from second to third base. The runner will run full speed to simulate a game situation.
One key is to have the runner peek at the batter. Rather than running with the head down they quickly check home to make sure that they see what happens.
For example, is it a pitch in the dirt, a ball put in play, or a pitch that gets away from the catcher? It’s very important that you have your runners practice this during drills so that it becomes a habit.
The second line us going to take an "angled" lead-off. If they don’t get the steal sign, they need to get a secondary lead that gives them an "angled" lead. This puts them in a good position to approach third base.
The player in this line is going to decide if the ball is put in play or not. As such, they will either go on "contact" or hustle back to the base. The player simply makes this decision on their own.
The third line is going to do an angled lead-off as well. However, this line is assuming every pitch is a ball in the dirt.
The player will either take off and go strong towards the third base or they will hustle back into second. Once again, the player makes this decision on their own, using their imagination about the play.
And the last group in this drill works on a simulated fly ball to right field.
As shown in the video, the coach throws a ball to a right fielder and the baserunner will react to it.
For more advanced players, you should work on this without telling them what to do. This will help them become better “students of the game.” In other words, allow them to read the fly-ball and react to what they think is most appropriate.
If she believes she can advance, she will tag-up and run to third base at full-speed. If she does not believe she can advance, she will tag up and get off as far as possible to try and draw a throw (without getting picked off).
One key is to make sure that the players are facing the right direction so she can turn when it’s caught.
You can incorporate other scenarios into this drill as well. For example, one group could be reading balls to right field, while a second group is reading fly-balls to other parts of the outfield.
The video is a baseball coach speaking to other baseball coaches. However, what you will find is that this simple base running drill will easily cross over for fastpitch softball teams as well.
The activity he outlines in the video below is a great way to have your players practice multiple base running situations in a short period of time!
As you can see from the above video, much of what is taught in baseball crosses over to fastpitch softball (and vice versa). While we often "target" one sport, most of what we teach could apply to both.
This post is a great example. While it's designed for fastpitch softball, the reality is that with a few tweaks most of these baserunning drills could be used for softball and baseball.
But let's keep moving...
Our third drill for this article is a drill for working on 3rd to Home situations specifically.
In this video, Coach Ritchhart again uses his college softball team to demonstrate.
This is a great way to simulate the situation with baserunners on 3rd base and less than two outs!
If you coach less experienced players, they might not be able to do #3 and #4 on their own. In that case, you can simply give them the specific thing you want them to do.
As with many drills, you can easily make modifications to best suite your teams age and experience level!
In our fourth video, we have what we call the clap drill. This base running drill is specifically for fastpitch softball based on how it is described in this video.
This is a great drill for giving players instant feedback for getting a good jump for stealing a base. Click the video below for an explanation.
One quick note about what you just heard in this video. First, if you haven't read our post on stealing bases in softball, I would encourage you to do so.
Second, you probably noticed the comments about leaving before the ball is released by the pitcher.
Just to be clear: This is an aggressive way to teach steal-jumps for fastpitch softball. Which means you WILL get called out for leaving early on occasion!
But what isn't covered in the video is that you need to figure out how the umpire is calling it. The more "leeway" they give on your jumps, the more aggressive your players can be!
All four of these drills are great for getting a lot of reps in a short amount of time! Which will make your practices more effective and efficient!
(By Tim Covey, Founder of Covey Sports)
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