Softball Base Running Drills
Just like in baseball, points are scored in softball by making your way all the way around the bases to home plate without getting tagged out. While many coaches and team practices focus on improving pitching, batting, and catching – the elements of the game that get players in the infield to begin with – there is one element of the game that’s essential for wins and is perhaps one of the most under coached areas of softball: base running.
One of the greatest arsenals a softball team has on the field is base running. Sure, pitching, batting, and catching are all fundamental parts of the game, but base running is the tool that gets players from first to home quickly. While base running is essentially just running base to base, believe it or not, there’s an art to it. There are different types of base running and base running drills that can be done during practice to improve your team’s game.
With proper coaching and a solid understanding of softball base running drills, you and your team can level up your game.
Base running Drills
Here are a few baseball/softball base running drills to help your team:
- Progressive Tag Up
The Progressive Tag Up softball base running drill is used to teach players how to tag up with fly balls. Because most fly balls are easily caught, this drill teaches players how to read balls and catchers and when and how they can tag up. Practice the drill in the infield or set up four bases in the outfield. To practice this drill:
- Put three outfielders into position.
- Line up three baserunners at first base.
- The coach will be positioned at home base with bats and balls and will hit a flyball into the outfield.
- The first base runner will slowly start to run to second base; if the ball is caught, they return to first base. If the ball isn’t caught, they pick up their pace and run to second.
- Steps one through four will be repeated with the next baserunners.
- The runner on second base can now tag up when the second runner is up.
- This drill can be moved along the diamond to second and third base as well.
- Three Line Sliding
The Three Line Sliding softball base running drill is used to teach players how to properly slide into bases – either the next base they’re progressing towards or when returning back to the base they originated from. Players will be doing a bent leg slide, which is a technique that requires them to extend their top leg straight out while simultaneously tucking their bottom leg under the knee to create a figure four shape. To add momentum to the slide, players should have their hands extended straight up and lean back and use their dominant foot (typically the right) to tag the base. Practice the drill in the infield or set up four bases in the outfield. To practice this drill, first put a player on first, second, and third bases, with a few players in line behind each of them, then:
- Have each player on a base have one foot on the base.
- When the coach yells, “Lead off!” each player will take a six to eight foot lead.
- When the coach yells, “Go!” each player sprints to the next base and does a bent leg slide into the next base.
- Repeat steps one through three until all players have tried sliding.
- Race to Home
The Race to Home base running drill doubles as an indoor base running drill too. This drill is used as a conditioning tool to improve speed and agility. To set up the drill, split your players into three teams. The first team are the baserunners, and line up at home plate. The second team acts as fielders and line up at first base. The third team is also fielders and lines up and third base. The coach will throw a soft pitch from halfway between the pitching mound and home. Then:
- The first baserunner in team one steps up to bat, hits a line drive, and starts base running.
- The first player in teams two and three then run to catch the ball. When both players touch the ball, the base runner stops running.
- Points are earned for every base that each base runner can hit.
- Repeat until each player on team one has a turn, then rotate teams accordingly.
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