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Cooperstown Baseball World, founded in 1999, is the only
youth tournament owned and operated by a Major League baseball owner
(Eddie Einhorn, Chicago White Sox). At Cooperstown Baseball World you will
experience competition against teams from throughout the United States, as
well as internationally!
Base Running, Youth Baseballís Tenth Man
Anyone who saw the 2000 World Series saw one of the worst exhibitions of
base running ever. Especially in game one when the New York Mets literally
ran themselves out of a rally which cost them the game, and quite possibly
could have changed the whole outcome of the Series. Who could forget when
Timo Perez of the Mets was on first base and after the batter hit the ball
deep to left, slowed down while running between first and second only to
be thrown out at home because the ball ended up being in play?
Or how about when Todd Ziele hit a slow grounder to third and didnít run
it out because it was in foul territory, only to have the ball kick fair
before it reached third. Ziele was thrown out while almost standing in the
Then there was Jay Payton hitting a three foot roller in front of home
plate and he thought it was foul and stood in the batterís box. The Yankee
catcher, Jorge Posada picked it up and tagged out Payton while holding the
runner on second. We also saw Mike Piazza being picked off first base in
the same game.
What can we teach our youth baseball players from this? Base running has
always been very underrated in baseball. In youth baseball, some coaches
(including myself) claim you can get one to three extra runs per game with
aggressive smart base running.
One year my team won the league championship and a few months following
the season I picked up my score book and after going through it,
discovered that my team had been thrown out at home 13 times during the
season in the course of 23 games - probably a record that will never be
broken. During the season I didnít realize that we were thrown out this
much but we must have scored about 25-30 extra runs by being aggressive
and smart on the bases.
Iíve learned over the years that my fastest base runners arenít
necessarily the smartest, and the slow base runners can make up for their
lack of speed by being smart. But can a team practice smart base running?
Are there drills to help even the slowest base runners?
There are and in a one hour practice I always devote ten to fifteen
minutes to base running drills. There are numerous base running drills we
practice. The first drill we practice is with a man on either second or
third with less than two out and a ground ball is hit to the left side of
the infield. We want the runner to advance to the next base when the
fielder lets go of the ball. I have a coach play first base and have a
shortstop and second baseman. The players (or base runners) line up at
second. The coach stands at home plate and hits a ground ball to either
the shortstop or third baseman. The runner at second will bounce off the
base and once the fielder lets go of the ball on his throw to first, puts
his head down and sprints to third. The next base runner at second and the
player who is at third will be the runners on the next ground ball. This a
great drill and goes quick. The player who was at third and goes home,
goes back to the end of the line at second.
A couple of teaching points and things to remember. Teach the base runners
that if they are at second and the ground ball is hit to third, they can
bounce off further. Same thing with the runner at third; if the ball is
hit to shortstop they can bounce off further than if it was hit to the
Another teaching point is that the base runner at third always slides at
home. There should not even be a question about it. Also in this drill
have a signal with the fielders like scratching your head, and that
signals the fielder to fake the throw and catch the runner off the base.
This is very effective and the base runners learn from this if they are
Base running is a part of baseball that does not get a lot of attention in
practice. The best base running teams are those that drill their players
in practice. Another added benefit for the younger players if a coach puts
an emphasis on base running is that they will tend to pay closer attention
to the game when they are on base.
Drill your team in base running and you will actually see how it can
become your tenth man on the team. You will be happy with the benefits.
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In starting these drills, it is assumed that no one has had formal
instruction in sliding, that the players are poor sliders, amateur sliders
and even "afraid" to slide. Basic to beginning instruction is finding a
comfortable side for sliding, knowing how to land and using the bent-leg
slide insuring safety so that injuries do not occur. A few ballplayers
will find they are just as comfortable on either side; therefore, they
should practice and perfect all their slides from both sides.
Drills and methods used here can be employed with equal success indoors or
outdoors. At no time is the sliding pit used for teaching sliding. The bed
is too soft and the player cannot slide into the base. As a result, he
learns to take off too close to the base and never learns to land
Indoors - Use the gym floor with sweatpants and sliding pads over them.
Outdoors - Use the outfield grass, preferably wet grass (sprinkle with
In the beginning, use no shoes. Inside, remove sneakers. Outside, remove
spikes. Later on as the ballplayer becomes proficient, he can wear his
When to Slide
1. To avoid a tag.
2. To stop at the base.
3. To break up a double play.
4. To get back to base.
5. Always when play is close.
Length of Slide
15' or two body lengths from base.
Direction of Slide
1. Sliding to right side, usually use right foot as takeoff foot.
2. Going to left side, use left foot as takeoff.
3. As takeoff occurs, the arms are thrown up, the upper body is extended
backwards and the feet forward, all somewhat close to parallel to the
On buttocks, head up, arms out for balance and toes upward.
1. In addition to above, tuck left leg or right leg in a bent position and
place under other leg.
2. Use the bent-leg position to teach the beginner to insure that the boy
will slide and injury will be avoided. Thus, he develops confidence and
aggressive baserunning techniques.
All players sit on the floor or grass and alternate placing one leg
straight and the other in the bent-leg tucked position (Caution: remember,
have them remove shoes and have pads on over pants).
By putting hands behind themselves while in the sitting position, they
push their body forward on floor or grass.
Here they are getting used to the position and finding out which side is
comfortable. Sliders can be left or right so far as which side is more
comfortable in the sliding position.
All players from a standing position practice the fall into the bent-leg
slide (Caution: We use no steps, as yet). Player should concentrate on his
landing and direction and getting the bent-leg tucked in underneath.
All players practice from a standing position with three walking steps.
Players that are comfortable on either side should practice both; however,
others should perfect their best side first.
All players practice drill from a standing position with a running
four-to-five step start.
During drills, coaches can correct faults by checking landing position,
hands out, body extended with head up, bent leg and tucked underneath and
toes up. Buttocks and calf of bent leg should show the wear of absorbing
the force of the slide; otherwise, the person is landing incorrectly.
Bent-Leg Straight In
As previously explained.
Bent-Leg and Pop-Up
As you slide, place foot of extended leg on base, throw weight back and
raise body in one motion. Continue running to next base.
Bent-Leg and Breakup Double Play
Raise foot of extended leg to bother footwork of pivot man.
Bent-Leg and Hook Slide
Slide right or left of bag three-to-four feet, depending on player's size.
When approaching base, bend extended leg (top leg) back, and it will hook
bag when sliding by. Remember, the left foot hooks the bag sliding to the
right, and the right foot hooks the base sliding to the left.
Real Hook Slide
Same landing position as previously discussed; however, both legs remain
extended toward the bag. As the bag is contacted, the toe of the inside
foot will hook the base and the knee will bend at the same time. The
outside foot will continue past the bag and off the ground. On the hook
slide, if sliding right, hook with the left foot and leg, keeping the
right leg extended and off the ground. If sliding left, hook with the
right foot and leg, keeping the left leg extended and off the ground.
Dropping The Rear
Shoulder: A Common
According to Jerry Kindall, coach of the U. of Arizona baseball team,
dropping the rear shoulder at the start of the swing is one of the three
most common batting errors.
This mistake results in poor visual contact with the ball-especially
during the final, critical 20 feet to the plate. It also produces a weak,
upward swing path.
Why? Because dropping the back shoulder causes the front shoulder to move
upwards and away from the pitch. It also lifts the head, producing a loss
of focus on the ball. Finally, the back elbow drops with the shoulder,
resulting in a weak, pushing, upward swing path.
How to Correct
If your batters are having this problem, instruct them to lift their back
elbow a little higher while waiting for the pitch. And tell them to keep
their front shoulder pointed towards the incoming ball as long as possible
before starting their swing.
These corrections will help them to keep their shoulders level and their
head motionless for better eye-focus on the ball.
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