by Tim Covey
One of the most under coached and underrated aspects of softball is fastpitch softball base running. We all know that it can be the difference in a ballgame, yet many of us do not spend much (or any) time in practice working on it with our players.
Baserunning has many layers that need time and attention. I believe that we should be spending at least some time in most practices working on its various elements. While we might not be able to squeeze it in every day, it is wise to spend a significant amount of time working on this part of the game.
Following are my top 3 reasons that every team needs to spend time practicing baserunning:
Baserunning is not simply running around the bases after the ball is put in play. This part of the game includes stealing, leads and returns, tagging up on fly-balls, sliding, rounding the bases, and reading the ball in the air. Not to mention decision making!
We cannot assume that all of our players have a solid grasp on each of these aspects. It takes practice and patience to teach these elements of the game to all of our players.
I am a big believer in teaching players to be aggressive on the bases. It takes time to develop this mindset, but when players start to “get it,” it makes the game much more enjoyable. Taking risks, challenging the defense, and making something happen at any given moment is a much more exciting way to play the game than always being conservative.
Each of us has players that have been blessed with God-given speed. While every player needs to learn how to run the bases, it is also our responsibility to teach our “rabbits” to wreak havoc on the base-paths!
Aside from stolen bases, baserunning does not come with a lot of statistics. Thus, great baserunning does not always show up on paper. However, taking an extra base at a critical moment, or forcing the defense into an error with aggressive baserunning can have an enormous impact on the outcome of any game.
In close games, EVERY little thing a team does well (or poorly) can be the difference in a win or a loss. I have had coached games where my team had a great baserunning night that led us to victory. However, I have also played against teams that “kicked our tails” with their baserunning…in which I can only “tip my hat” to their game-play.
I often ask my players, “who would you rather play against, an aggressive baserunning team or one that just runs one base at a time?” It takes very little thought for my players to respond. It is much much more difficult playing defense against a team that runs the bases well and takes advantage of every opportunity.
by Covey Sports