Little League puts limits on base stealing, but high school baseball players really start to get acquainted with stealing bases. Fortunately, it isn’t impossible for most players to swipe a bag or two during a game, but it takes certain skills to do so effectively. A player that steals thirty bases per season is useless if they get caught fifty times. Different situations call for different stealing techniques and capabilities, but any player with speed and good judgment can tackle base stealing. With that in mind, here are some of the basics.
The Basics of Stealing Bases
It takes an agile runner to steal bases on a regular bases. Sure, a bigger player can steal a base or two, but it won’t happen very frequently nor should it. A player must also have very good judgment in figuring out what a pitcher is doing and what he or she is going to do. Also, baserunners must pay a little bit of attention to the catcher who is probably watching them. Every baserunner that plans on stealing must get a leadoff from the base, which could just be a step or two off the bag. From there, it’s all about timing and speed. A player must try to get the jump on the pitcher by storming toward the next base to get the steal before the catcher receives the ball and lobs it to the baseman for the out. That’s simple in description but difficult in practice.
Stealing Second Base
Stealing second base is done all the time in baseball games at almost every level. Of course, a runner can grab a leadoff of a few steps from the bag in most cases. It’s important to avoid being picked off here though. A steal of second base is easiest done against a right-handed pitcher because they have their back to the runner. It’s best for runners to stay in a position that allows them to get into a running stance quickest. So then, that means staying in a ready stance with arms prepared to swing toward second base. Runners should cross their left leg over their right one to start running to avoid losing time. To get a successful steal, a player must time their race for second properly – usually when a pitcher is winding up to throw.
Stealing Third Base
Stealing third base is pretty much the same process, but there are a few extra things to consider. For this one, it’s best to have a left-handed pitcher tossing the ball. Having a right-handed batter at the plate also helps because the catcher will have to throw around him. Runners can get a pretty big leadoff when going to steal third without having the infield call for the pitcher and a pickoff. However, the jump becomes especially important and must start as soon as the pitcher commits to throwing a pitch.
For the most part, stealing home plate is a pretty difficult thing to pull off even when aided by a double steal. Stealing home isn’t recommended or attempted very much at the high school level because it’s so easy to get caught up in a rundown or tagged out. Still, a really fast and smart baserunner can swipe home plate every once in awhile. The player has to get a really big leadoff and then an even bigger jump to beat the throw to home plate or beat the catcher to the bag. So then, stealing home is pretty rare at the high school level.
Stealing takes speed, intelligence, and some luck.
In the end, a baserunner’s timing, leadoff, and jump will be the most important factors in a steal attempt. Speed is important too but means nothing for a runner with bad judgment. Certain factors increase the likelihood of a successful attempt, including the handedness of the pitcher and batter. Still, it takes a smart baserunner to make a successful steal in the end. Nothing can take the place of a good runner.
For more information, visit Baserunning.