STEALING SECOND BASE ON A RH PITCHER: As mentioned in my previous article, a good base runner will establish his maximum lead in practice and know his outer limits. This is typically a step and a dive with your “outstretched’ right arm touching the outside corner of first base. A good base stealer studies the pitcher and understands what first movement indicates they are going to home plate. A RH pitcher will come set and look over his left shoulder. His first movement towards home is the KEY to getting a good jump. I had great success in reading the left heal or the left knee. Note the earliest movement on each pitcher and “WRITE IT DOWN.” Like a fingerprint, each pitcher gives away his earliest movement with a signature move that needs to be identified and remembered! THIS IS THE KEY TO STEALING BASES. Be a student of the game and watch the pitcher intently from the dug out and look for patterns or habits. Try to identify what will trigger your jump on a steal and watch his moves to first base so you won’t get caught by surprise. Ball players can gain many advantages by paying attention while in the dug out. While on first base, occasionally break for second like you are stealing the bag and stop. This puts added pressure on the catcher and hopefully gets a “runner” call moving one of the middle infielders towards second base opening up the holes in the infield for the hitter. You also get to practice your jump live against the pitcher.
A base runner’s first move is the left arm pumping across your body towards second base and your left foot (and leg) crossing your body and heading towards second base. The first two to four steps are low to the ground and with feet and arms pumping and your head and eyes on second base. As you begin to run, get into your most comfortable running position that will create the most speed and keep your eyes on the front of second base. This is why you keep your right foot slightly open in your lead off. Sliding into second base; Head first was my style because I could watch the play develop and if it was a close play I could go to the outer or inner part of the bag to avoid the tag…depending on where the ball was caught. Feet first is probably smarter (with less injuries) and you can still slide to the inside or outside of the bag.
STEALING SECOND BASE ON A LH PITCHER: Much easier then right handers but maybe not as successful! I always would steal second base on the left handers first move. Identify the left handers first move (which is often his hands) and just take off for second base with the same hand and leg pump as described earlier. A left hander often makes up his mind if he will pick you off or go home before they start their motion. Stay in the base line and slide aggressively into second base. If the lefty picks you off then they have to throw to first, step inside throw to shortstop and tag you for the out. All you have to do is run hard and slide.
Take pride in your base running!
Kirk Hansell SBA