Running the Bases: How to Take a Lead Off First Base

There is a lot of strategy that goes into the game of baseball, and one such component of a team’s strategy is stealing bases. But – you’ll never steal any bases if you don’t master taking a lead off the base correctly. In fact, you could actually hurt your team more if you do it incorrectly.

Today, let’s explore how to take a lead off first base and what must be done to be successful:

Stay Relaxed

Tense muscles are tight muscles, and tight muscles aren’t as agile. Instead, focus on what you know from practice. Keep your head in the game and an athletic stance at all times.

Avoid the Crossover

Pitchers are trained to look for crossover footwork as you take a lead off, this means when your left foot crosses over your right. In this position, your back is actually to the base, making it more difficult to dive back toward the base in a pinch. 

Focus on the Pitcher

If you aren’t on the bag, then you better know what the pitcher – and the ball – is doing at all times. Even when you are in the dugout, watch how the pitcher handles a pickoff to first in order to know what to expect when you’re in that situation yourself.

Take a Consistent Lead

Just as you’re watching the pitcher, if he’s good, he’s watching you! Make sure each of your leads looks exactly the same, so that when it’s time to steal the base, you haven’t tipped him off with a lead that looks different than the rest before you’ve even gone for it. This lead should be around 9-12 feet from the first base bag.

Play the Angle

When leading off the bag, consider angling the lead toward the pitcher. This lead gives the pitcher an optical illusion that you are closer to the bag (when in reality you aren’t), making you appear less of a threat to steal.  Another technique? Lead off toward the back angle, making the tag more difficult.

Ready for more base running tips and techniques? Come train at D-BAT – the best baseball and softball training facility in the country! Find the closest location to you HERE!

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