Whether you are diving back to a base or going into a base she’s sure to be there. You know who I’m talking about. That big, mean, ugly girl with the bad attitude. Not sure who she is … she’s the one with the ball. She’ll try to block you. She’ll try to smack you with her glove and the ball. She might pull your hair and steal your Gatorade. Ok hopefully she’s not that mean, but she is going to try anything she needs to do in order to get you out. Because that’s her job and she is good at it.
The diving itself should be easy for you by now if you’ve been working hard but there is one part of it that might still be giving you fits. The stopping exactly at the base with your arms fully stretched out. If you go too early you probably come up a few inches or a foot short. If you wait to long you might end up with your face or chest on top of the base.
The great news is that this month I will be helping you solve both of those problems at one time. The solution is actually simple if think about. Don’t dive back to the base. Dive back to the invisible base instead. Seriously!
All you have to do is have a pinky finger touching the base in order to be safe and you can do that from any number of angles. You don’t have to go straight back into it. So are you ready to figure out where that invisible base is? Go grab two pillows because this month we are going to practice by using two pillows in the comfort of your home.
I want you to lay the first pillow down and pretend it is first base. Hold the other pillow in your left hand. Now lay down on your belly and stretch your arms both forward imagining that you are diving back to the base. Oh yeah, we don’t want to do that. So scoot yourself as far to your left as you can and still reach the far edge of the pillow with the fingers of your right hand.
Now scoot yourself forward so that instead of barely touching that corner of the pillow your eyes are even with the other edge of the pillow and your arm is stretched as far as it can go so your fingers are barely touching the middle of the edge of the pillow.
Now it’s time for the other pillow to become that “invisible” base that I mentioned. Scoot forward some more so that the fingers of your right hand can barely touch the top corner of the pillow and hold out the other pillow with your left hand.
Now stand up. Walk backwards a few steps and imagine that you have taken a lead and you are going to need to dive back. But not to the real base (that first pillow) you need to pretend you are going to dive back to that invisible base (the second pillow). If you are going to dive back to that invisible base, you are going to need to run back to that invisible base instead as well. Here is the real beauty of doing this. If you dive back a little bit early you will be in the first position where the fingers of your right hand can barely touch the front edge of the base. If you go about right your arm will be about sideways barely touching the middle of the base. If you went too far you would barely be touching the back corner of the base and your left hand would barely be touching that invisible base. Regardless of your timing you are safe and safely out of reach from that big, mean, ugly girl with the bad attitude and the ball.
Feel free to take that second pillow to the field for your invisible base when you practice this for real, or something that momma won’t yell at you for getting dirty. You need to practice taking your leads and coming back to it, and practice rounding and coming back to it. The key is to have something there so you can actually visualize as a target.
The more you practice diving back the more you should realize that the faster you are going the easier it actually is. The faster you are going the more you glide across the ground and the less friction that holds onto you. That works out really well for us as we progress because where I live we don’t score runs by diving back to first base. We have to take the next bases one at a time all the way home or they won’t give us a run. They are just kind of picky like that. While you may be afraid the good news is that you can start going forward into a base the same way you practiced diving back. Start out on your hands and knees if you need to and keep going through the progressions until you are running full speed diving into second base. Practice, practice and practice.
The bad news is that although you now know it’s just as easy to dive into a base as it is to dive back to a base it is still hard to time it perfectly and there is another big, mean, ugly girl with a bad attitude that will be trying to block that base and get you out there as well. Don’t cry just yet because invisible bases are cheap and they are at second base, third base and at home plate.
If you are stealing then more than likely you will dive to the invisible base on the outfield side of second base and touch the real second base with your left hand. Start your practices just like you did at the beginning of the article. Just lay down on your belly so that you can barely touch the outfield side of second base with your left hand. Then move forward, until you are past the base reaching back to touch it. Then start trying it with some speed until you are running full speed and diving to that invisible base.
But what if you’ve hit a double then the odds are good that the fielder will be blocking that invisible base waiting for the throw from the outfielder. Rats! Now what you are going to do? Hehe the good news for you is that there is another invisible base on the infield side of second base that you can dive into just like you were diving back to first with your right arm. Again they are invisible so they are cheap. Your practice for that is exactly the same as you did at first base. The best news is that there are also two invisible bases at third base, and two at home as well. You want to practice diving to both sides of third base and home plate so you can avoid that big, mean, ugly girl with the bad attitude who has the ball regardless where she happens to be. One last thing … 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
This content is provided with a Creative Commons Share-Alike License. Feel free to use this content, so long as you give credit to Gary Leland, of Fastpitch.TV and link to www.Fastpitch.TV