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Teaching Runners to Leave the Base?

Dec 16, 2008
Speaking at the high school level or 16U/18U, I was wanting input about if there was a specific part of the pitching motion that you have runners(assuming they are using a rocker start) begin thier lead-off. I realize some girls have quicker reflexes but what is your key starting point.
Dec 12, 2008
Albany NY
My team is younger, but we teach them to count off the pitchers motion - the pitching hand will pass the hip three times - on '2', they start to go - by the time they get off the base, the pitcher has released (at '3').
Jan 15, 2009
I like the two whistle drill.

Have a set of girls pitching and catching ( can double as their work out, but should be game pitches, not walk throughs or other non-legal warm-ups )

Have the rest lined up at the three bases practicing leading off. At 1B only give them feedback by having two whistles, one whistle blows when pitcher releases the ball the other when the players foot leaves the bag.

You could give feedback at all three bases, but I like to keep it simple.

Make sure you use different pitchers so that they get used to changing their timing based on the pitcher and also so that the pitcher gets a chance to practice leading off as well (makes them feel involved even if they are the type that don't get to run for themselves very often)
Dec 3, 2008
In rocker step, leave when her arm gets to the top of her motion. Your first step will take you forward, while leaving the other foot on the base.
May 13, 2008
I like the Whistle Drill as well. It teaches the girls that no matter what type of lead they do a rocker start or a stationary start that the foot has to get off of the base when the ball leaves the pitcher's hand.

A couple of bonus teaching points is to take a 3 step lead at 1st and 3rd, a 5 step lead at 2nd. For the lead at 1st if you're getting a normal lead then you take off when the pitch leaves the hand, but for a bunt you want to delay the lead until the ball gets to the plate so your runner has time to see if the bunt got down or not.

The lead at third is always a delayed lead, that way if it is a wild pitch or passed ball the runner at third doesn't have to stop and restart their momentum to take home. Same reasoning if you're attempting a suicide squeeze, you want to make sure the bunt gets put down before you take off.
Feb 5, 2009
Would it be more advantageous to have the 3b runner take as big a lead as the 3 baseman allows? vs a 3 step rocker lead?

I`m looking to change the 3 step baseball style lead-off I use now. (I don`t use the rocker at 3rd)

I mainly would like to keep things simple, and not throw too many things at my first year 14u b team. Would I be getting too complex with teaching the girls to take as much of a lead as the 3rd baseman allows?

Dec 28, 2008
I like girls to:
1. Take as big a lead as the other team will allow them to take. If the catcher never snaps the ball, and they never have to dive back ... they aren't being aggressive and they are leaving potential runs on the field. I don't think it is complicated to expect a 14 year old ball player to take a bigger lead off if 3B or 1B plays at 30 feet to cover for a bunt or slap.

2. Study the base umpire when other girls are on base and see if the ump is actually watching the runner and pitcher, or if they get caught up in the game and watch the batter. That should let them know how "early" they can leave the base.

3. Practice their leads whether stationary or rocker in between innings. The pitcher is gracious enough to give them 5 opportunities each inning to get their timing down so they might as well take the gift.
Feb 5, 2009

I see all your points and I understand the aspects...Study your competition.

LOL,,I`ve lost track of the runners before when I was umping....theres alot to watch....just like when running a team.

Feb 5, 2009
Just thinking out loud, I guess I should make sure the 3 base coach keeps an eye on the SS! .....in case of a pick-off...dang this game can get complicated!

Aug 4, 2008
We teach the rocker step. I learned from a college coach in Cshilt area, to time your rocker step to the gap in the pitchers legs. This gives you a split second jump, instead of watching the hand of the pitcher.