Smart base running is aggressive base running. Every 90 feet that you grab gets you and your club closer to pressure on the club in the other dugout. It also keeps the pitcher on his/her toes of splitting his/her attention span - first to the batter then to you on the base path.
- That half circle that’s cut in the infield grass around each base is exactly 13 feet (90 ft. diamond.) This means that from the bag out, you can pace out a 13 foot mark. So, if you can stretch your lead off first, 13 feet, that means that you only have to go (90 - 13) 77 feet to second. Also, figure it this way, if you can go from home to first, after making contact with the ball, in 4.5 seconds it’ll only take you about 3.8 seconds to make it second with a 13 foot lead.
Results - Very few amateur batteries at the high school level, travel ball level, Legion level,etc., can make that pitch-catcher- to-second in that time frame.
- Take advantage of the infield “shift.” When on the base path and you notice the “shift” on where an infielder is NOT covering the bag by being at least 30 feet away, stretch your lead as far as you dare - matching your base running speed with distance to the bag that you’re going for.
Results - Very few, if any, amateur infielders covering second and especially third, can effectively get to those bags respectively, when playing 20 to 30 feet in the shallow outfield, or out of position. Your best option is to train yourself to spot these weaknesses. Use your practice sessions to time yourself against teammates at various “shift” type positions on the field. You’d be amazed how this rattles a club and how the blame game starts to get really vocal when they come off the field.
- Take advantage of a pitcher and infielders daydreaming. This is my biggest pet peeve! A pitcher that stands at the back of the mound, rubbing the ball, looking at the ground, “dusting” his foot across the grass and so forth is NOT PAYING ATTENTION ! Couple that with infielders jawboning with one another, hands on hips looking out into space, taking to others, are just begging for stolen ground.
Results - If you spot an opportunity to go-for-it, DO IT! Burn these knuckleheads big time with no remorse. After the inning is over, pay particular attention to those that are getting an earful. Those are the batters that you want to nibble the edges of the plate with. Why? Because they’ll be extra aggressive trying to redeem themselves. Burn’em again.