There is something satisfying about swiping a base off your opponent. Whether it’s the perfect jump, the perfect slide, or the perfect offspeed pitch in the dirt, stealing bases is a product of effort colliding with opportunity. Oh, and did we mention straight-line speed? Of course, faster players will have an inherent advantage when stealing bases. But you don’t have to be blazing fast to take an extra 90 feet. In fact, some of the game’s most notorious baserunners get it done primarily with their brains. In fact, we’re going to start by looking at the mental side of baserunning before we get into any of our other tips for stealing bases.
If you are looking to steal more bases, you have to put in the work and pay attention to little things. Here are a few things to think about throughout the game. Watch the pitcher whenever a runner is on base.
- Does he operate out of the same rhythm?
- Where are his feet when he picks off compared to when he throws home?
- Does he pick off every time a runner gets on first?
- In what counts will he throw his offspeed pitches?
- How fast is the pitcher to home plate?
Once you start to understand the minutiae of baseball’s most exciting game of cat and mouse, you’ll have that base stolen before you even reach first.
Understand Your Leadoff
Many players just go through the motions when leading off of first or second base. A couple steps, maybe a shuffle or two, followed by a couple shuffles once the pitcher releases the ball. While a monotonous leadoff might be acceptable for conservative runners, we recommend a more aggressive approach for players looking to steal more bases.
For starters, understand that your leadoff is your jumpstart. The further off the bag you can be when the pitch is released, the closer you are to your next base. Essentially moving up the starting point of a race.
But you must be careful.
Getting picked off of first (or even second) is the ultimate no-no. This is why you need to understand your own leadoff. There is no direct formula for leading off that will be perfect for every baserunner. If you are a player that is quick to recognize pickoffs and can scamper back to the bag safely, it’s ok to take a more aggressive lead. Just avoid taking too big of lead that ultimately hinders you from getting a good jump on the delivery.
Tip: Make a mark in the dirt with your front foot once you have established your comfortable leadoff. This will enable you to be consistent in your setup on the bases.
Time The Pitcher's Delivery
You may have seen a baseball game on TV before and wondered why does the first base coach carry a stopwatch? First base coaches will carry stopwatches to time the pitcher’s delivery to home plate and the catcher’s pop time to second (typically observed between innings.) It becomes a simple numbers game once a coach has determined a consistent [delivery time + pop time].
Pitcher’s Delivery Time: ~1.3 seconds
Catcher’s Pop Time: ~2.0 seconds
Total time: ~3.3 seconds
This means that a baserunner needs to get from their final leadoff position to second base in less than 3.3 seconds to have a high probability of successfully stealing second base. If this is the case, look for the runner to eventually take off for second. Now, let's get into the best base stealing tips.
7 Quick Base Stealing Tips
- Tip #1 — Steal off of the pitcher, not the catcher
- Tip #2 — Read the catcher for the upcoming pitch
- Tip #3 — Find the pitcher’s rhythm and use it against him
- Tip #4 — Know the count and anticipate the pitch selection
- Tip #5 — Trust your jump
- Tip #6 — Rely on your brains, not your speed
- Tip #7 — Don’t be afraid to steal third
We hope you enjoyed our breakdown of tips to steal more bases. If you aren’t aware of JustBats, we sell the best baseball bats and softball bats. We have a whole staff of Bat Experts available to answer any questions you may have. They’re friendly, knowledgeable, and would love to help you find any equipment you might need. Call us at 866-321-2287, email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or click here to live chat. We’re JustBats, and we’re with you from Click To Hit!