You want to know what really gets me upset? I mean really sends me over the edge. It's when I see a team with runners at first and third, less than 2 outs and I see the first base coach whisper to the runner at first. Although I'm in the stands I can hear them crystal clear saying “Just go ahead and run to second the catcher can't throw because there is a runner at third base and we will get a run.”
I want to telepathically yell back at them “Of course she can throw down to second and she will. The player you have on third takes 2 foot lead offs and immediately jumps back to the base. I know she isn't going to run unless the coach shoves her, the catcher knows she isn't going to run and the player's parents know she isn't going to run. So don't let your girl at first get hung out to dry here. ”
You probably think I'm crazy, and you may be right but truth be told you've seen it happen time after time and perhaps with your very own teams. You've worked all week on gimmick throws so in your minds the catcher “won't throw” and so the runner darts straight to second base and sure enough the catcher does throw the ball, the girl at third is hugging the base, the shortstop catches the ball and tags the runner.
Well Coach Dalton what's the solution? So glad you asked I' d love to share a pretty neat solution with you. But first I need to interrupt the regularly scheduled good stuff, with a brief boring interlude to explain the difference between the base line and the base path.
The base line is that invisible line that runs between the bases. You know the ones that you run on because the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. (Yuck math stuff.) Well that base line may be the shortest distance but in this situation and you are the runner at first base you aren't in any hurry to get there. You aren't stealing. That's where the base path can prove to be much more beneficial. If you know what the base path that is.
The base path is that invisible path that you define between the bases. But Coach Dalton if we run more than 3 feet out of the base line we will be called out. Wrong answer but thanks for playing. Imagine a player who is really fast rounding the bases. They go way more than 3 feet out of the base line but they aren't called out. It's because you are allowed to make your own path, but once you establish that path you are obligated to stay within 3 feet of your base path. Meaning you can run 12 feet from the base line, but once you start on that course if a fielder wants to tag you with the ball you aren't allowed to say “just kidding I much prefer that path over there.” a fielder wants to tag you with the ball you aren't allowed to say “just kidding I much prefer that path over there.”
Ok now that you understand the difference between the base line and your base path lets talk about how you can choose a smart base path in this situation. In the video you are going to see our runner Kady running on the base line. Catcher does make the throw and she is tagged out. I hate it when that happens. If Kady were smart she'd turn around and run back to first right? I do see runners do that but the SS has no problem chasing her and yet still keeping an eye on the runner at third. If the runner ever does get shoved off the base, she is actually closer to the plat than she was at second base, and bam she throws the girl out at home. You will see the fielder Lauren has no trouble handling Kady in either situation.
But when Kady makes up a base path that is about 1 0 feet from the base line if the runner doesn't go and Lauren has to turn for the tag, guess what, the run was longer for Kady so she isn't right there for an easy tag. When Lauren makes the instinctive decision to go after her since she is 1 0 foot from the base line she turns her back on the runner at third. Not kidding you at all. I've seldom seen players with eyes in both the front and back of their heads who can turn to chase a runner more towards the outfield and still see the runner at third. That's a really positive thing for us.
The runner at third is likely in a panic mode thinking “they have a sneaky play up their sleeves and they will get me.” When she sees the shortstop turn her back to her and running further away it gives her the confidence that she can go. Unless you are of the mind that scoring runs is over rated that's a really good thing. Instead of the runner from first getting tagged out because of her teammates panic and then yelling in the dugout “Why did you just stand there? You are supposed to go if they throw? What's wrong with you?” She pulls the short stop away from the play, whichtakes the pressure off the runner so that she can score.
Back to Kady though who is now coming to second base from her base path and the short stop Lauren does make the throw home. Kady cruises into second base right? That's the way it's supposed to work. But why? Who says that in that situation Kady has to stop at second base? The “first and third base runner situation police?” She is now running full speed in a position where she can easily round second base and head straight to third. It's going to take her about 3 seconds to finish that trip. In order to stop her in that same amount of time the catcher is going to have to make the catch, make the play at home, keep her head in the play and make a throw to third base. Considering that the runner at third has watched my diving videos she is going to back of the plate and the catcher will either have to turn for a tag.
Turning her back is probably all she needs to distract her frorn remembering that she has another runner who is very actively doing her job. And if she doesn't forget the odds are really strong that the third baseman will be watching the play and not standing at her base to protect it from a diving Kady. I don't even consider that a gamble. I consider that a pretty safe bet if you wanted to put your money on Kady being safe.
But hey feel free to run straight to second because after all it's not like the catcher is really crazy enough to make the throw. No sense working up a sweat with all that extra running on your own base path and going to third if the catcher does throw. After all it's not like runs are important. Now go GET DIRTY!!!
Dalton Ruer: Coach Ruer has been using softball to encourage and motivate athletes for 15 years. Throughout the year he is a private softball instructor to many college bound athletes in Georgia. He facilitates team based clinics and instructs at many elite and college recruiting softball camps. His specialties are helping players verbalize their dreams and establish a plan to achieve them and helping players overcome the fears that are holding them back from being exceptional athletes. He has produced 6 instructional DVD’s covering all aspects of how to win the short game and how to dive for the ball. Keep up with Coach Dalton by visiting his blog and resource site at CrossTrainingSoftball.com. Join Dalton On: Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, YouTube
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