Teaching Speed and Agility Drills compliments your running game. Congratulations, you’ve either hit, walked or been hit by a pitch and are now on base safely. It’s time to take a breather and smell the roses. Not !! It’s time to take note of everything that’s going on around you.
Are there other runners on base, if so are they fast or slow, how many outs, what’s the score and what can I do to increase my chances of being able to score? These are the things you must quickly register and determine how these circumstances are going to dictate what you’re able to do as a base runner. You must develop a strategy and fast.
We’re going to examine how pitch count affects a runner’s s
trategy on what he/she may or may not want to attempt running the bases. We’re going to exam 2 different scenarios and how we should react to the events which take place. We’ll also assume we are playing at a high skill level where a Catcher can and will make a throw to second base with a runner on third.
Speed and Agility Drills
Runner on first and third base, 0- outs, team trailing 6-5 in the 5th inning, new batter coming to the plate.
Runner on first base. The runner on first base should be analyzing the situation as he stands on the base. Team is trailing by 1 run, which means the runner on third is the tying run, he’s the lead run.
He should be intent on advancing to second base via the steal for two reasons, one to get into scoring position and due to a runner being on third base it may stop the catcher from throwing to second base.
Speed and Agility Drills
1-0 & 2-0 Counts Unless you have analyzed the pitcher and his motion before, these two counts are the ones you want to use to now do that.
On your initial lead, carefully, don’t jump out there like a jack rabbit, increase your lead to a point where it could/should induce a throw over to either push you back or a genuine pick off attempt.
Your intent is to get a good look at the pitcher’s pick off move. Saying that, your mindset should be preparing to quickly dive back to first base, not steal. Don’t get caught mentally confused or you could get picked off which would be the worse thing you could do at this point.
Knowing you have too large of a normal lead and being unable to induce a throw over to first, you probably have a huge advantage to steal second base uncontested. Either the pitcher has a poor move to first, which allows you a huge jump, the catcher has a weak throwing arm or the opposing coach is conceding second base.
However, there’s always the fourth option which can not be ignored…they are setting you up for a quick pick off move by the pitcher or a throw behind you from the catcher. Be confident, but don’t be foolish and get lulled to sleep.
Speed and Agility Drills 3-0 - This count is traditionally a no-brainer which you will steal because obviously the pitcher must throw a strike or walk the batter.
Throwing a must strike increases the batter’s chance of hitting the ball and with you already running, a base hit will advance you two bases and possibly allow you to score.
Always be watching your coach for signals as to what he wants you to do. Some coaches prefer to take the chance the batter will walk, moving you automatically to second base, than risk you being thrown out at second on a taken strike, or doubled up by a stinging line drive to an infielder.
0-1, 1-1, 2-1 Counts - Two of these three counts has allowed you the benefit of watching an analyzing the pitcher make multiple pitches home. Assuming the previous scenario of not being able to induce a throw over to first base still holds true, these counts are Steal counts.
They afford you the best opportunity to steal while the pitcher and catcher are concentrated on the batter and the batter is not at a disadvantage of having to protect the plate and possibly having to swing at a bad pitch.
Speed and Agility Drills
2-2, 1-2, 0-2 Counts - If you haven’t been able to steal before the batter has reached these counts, do not attempt to steal. The only benefit you’d possibly have, and that’s doubtful, is that of surprise.
The chance of running into a Strike ‘em Out …Throw ‘em Out situation is too great. The opponent, who showed no inclination to attempt to throw a runner out attempting to steal or even throw over in an honest pick off attempt, may aggressively choose to allow the tying run to score in exchange for the out, which would more than likely, eliminate the possibly of allowing a big inning.
Much better to still have runners on 1st and second with 1 one, than bases empty with 2 outs in spite of scoring the tying run.
Speed and Agility Drills
ALL COUNTS - Something which the runner on first base should be especially aware of, and to a lesser degree the runner on third, is the ball in the dirt. As the runner on first, who is now in his Secondary lead, the split second you see or determine the pitch will be in the dirt, you Run to Second. No hesitation as hesitation is a killer.
The catcher is taught, especially with a runner at third base, to block the ball at all costs. His entire mindset at that moment is to drop in front of the ball, taking his preventive C-curve posture and stop the ball from getting by him. If he can make the ball deaden 3 or 4 feet out in front of the plate, he has done a fantastic job.
Assuming you, the runner on first base, instantly reacted and headed for second, you’re standing there in scoring position without a play being made on you.
Speed and Agility Drills - Runner on Third Base
The runner on third base with less than 2 outs has unique responsibilities and strategy. With the exception of bases being loaded, which creates a force out situation at home plate, he could care less, as far as their affect on him, if other runners are on base or not.
His only goal is to score, period. Doesn’t matter by what means it may take, he is a run as soon as he safely crosses the plate.
A batter knows when he hit’s the ball he runs to first base. He doesn’t run to third base or to the dugout or anywhere else but to first base. That fact is engrained so deep inside his mind that he does it without thinking or hesitation. What am I getting at?
A Runner on Third Base Always Takes His Lead Off in Foul Territory !!
Speed and Agility Drills - That fact should be just as engrained in players’ minds, as which base to run to first. I can not stress that enough. As a reminder to some, if the runner is hit by a hit baseball while standing in fair territory, he is out.
As this area of the infield is referred to as the Hot Box because of the screaming ground balls and line drives hit here, the possibility of not being able to get out of the way and avoid being hit is quite real. So why take the chance? Lead off in foul territory.
Speed and Agility Drills - Pitch count for a runner on third, for the most part, is irrelative. The number of outs is his/her primary concern as it dictates everything he will or will not attempt to do.
Fly Ball to the Outfield - When a fly ball is hit to the outfield, the initial move of the runner should automatically be go back to third base. He should not stop and watch the ball, he should not shuffle step sideways towards home plate, he returns to third base while watching the flight of the ball.
The reasoning for this returning to the base is quite simplistic if you consider it for a second. 99.9% of the time, if the ball is not caught, the runner will have plenty of time to score before the ball can be retrieved and a throw to the plate can be made.
If the ball is caught, but the ball is deep enough that the fielder can not throw the ball home in time to get the runner out, he tags up and scores after the catch. Had he not been on the base, ready to tag and run the second the ball was caught, he would not have been able to score.
I know, there are times when a short pop fly will drop and the fielder is right there to field and throw it, preventing the run from scoring. Remember, baseball is a game of percentages and they apply or else MLB managers would not play them, such as bringing in a left handed pitcher to face a left handed batter. The percentages are in the pitcher’s favor in this situation.
So percentage wise, returning to third base is the smart move. Additionally, there is always the exception to the rule and human decision making will ultimately rule. If a runner on third determines the Texas league liner will not be caught, then he should continue to run to home plate.
Speed and Agility Drills
Ball in the Dirt - This is one of the hardest running decisions a player will encounter, especially in little league / youth league play, because the back stops are normally located close to the home plate area and the possibility of a passed ball bouncing back to the catcher is a real one.
Additionally, there can be no hesitation as to whether to try and score or not. Hesitation will either get you put out or stop you from attempting to score, but no hesitation can also get you caught in No Man’s Land if the catcher stops the ball in front of him.
Situation dictates what a runner does in the event the pitch is in the dirt. If you are leading or trailing by 6 runs, it’s an easy decision to not attempt to score because 1 run doesn’t change the game that much, at that time.
However, if it’s the bottom of the 9th you’re down by 1 run, 2 outs with a weak hitter batting …now you may try to score.
Speed and Agility Drills ---
There are really no hard fast rules to guide you here. Situation, instinct, and reaction time all play a part in what happens. One thing to look for as a runner, if the batter is properly performing his job, he will indicate to you what he thinks you should do.
He’s right at the plate with a much better view than you. If he sees the ball skid away 3 or 4 feet he should immediately be indicating to you, by raising his hand in a stop sign, to not try to score because the ball is not far enough away.
On the other hand if he sees the ball skid past the catcher heading towards the dugout he should immediately be waving you in. There must be a certain amount of professional trust here, as if the batter screws up, it’s you who will be put out.
These demonstrations of how ball and strike counts affect running situations is designed to show you the importance of developing a strategy when you’re on base and that the strategy could change on every pitch