The stolen base is many times one of the most exciting plays in baseball. A lot of things need to go right for a player to successfully steal a base, while on the other hand the same can be said for the defensive team trying to prevent a stolen base. But for the offensive team, a stolen base will usually put your team in a better position to score, and that means more runs.
For this article, we’ll focus on some tips that can help you become a better base stealer. Although some of these may be fairly obvious when you put them all together your chances of being successful is sure to increase.
Get a Good Jump
This is another fairly obvious tip but an important one. Without a good jump, there’s a much better chance for you to be thrown out than for you to be successful. Learning how to determine the exact moment to take off by reading the pitcher can make all the difference. And once you’ve deciding to go, don’t hesitate and go full speed.
Analyze the Pitcher
A good baserunner will have already analyzed the pitcher’s habits before attempting a steal. For instance, how quick does he deliver the ball to the plate? Does he keep a good eye on the runner and throw to first very often? Does he throw a lot of off-speed pitches or mostly fastballs? These are all important things to know before even attempting a steal. Players can determine this by keeping a close eye on these things prior to getting on base.
Most importantly, what is the move the pitcher makes when you know he is throwing to the plate and not over to first for a pickoff? Once you know that, it will be your trigger to take off and get the good jump you need.
Also, if possible, try to determine if you see any particular pitching patterns. Like if the pitcher always follows up two fastballs with an off-speed pitch. Or maybe he starts each hitter with a curveball or changeup. If you can pick up a pattern, chances are good that you’ll get the upper hand.
Analyze the Catcher
Players should not only be looking at the pitcher, but also getting a feel for the catcher and how he throws the ball. If you have a catcher with a strong and accurate arm, it’s going to be more difficult to steal a base on them. On the other hand, a catcher without those two skills will give you a much better chance at success.
So be looking at the catcher to get a feel for how he throws. This could be tough to gauge if there aren’t many steal attempts so watch him in warmups or between innings to get a feel for things.
Pick Up Signs
Knowing what type of pitch is coming gives baserunners an edge when it comes to stealing a base. Therefore, if you are able to figure out the signs from the catcher to the pitcher, and then peek at the catcher and see the sign while leading off, it can help you know a good pitch to run on.
A slower pitch, such as a curveball or changeup, is an ideal pitch to run on since it takes longer to get to the plate and could even bounce in the dirt. So if you or one of your teammates is able to pick up the signs from the opposing team, this can definitely help your chances of stealing a base. But be careful when taking a peek at the catcher that you don’t get picked off.
Learn More: Baseball Signs and Signals
Read the Pitch Type and Ball Trajectory
When you are not given the steal sign you should still be alert and be looking for wild pitches to advance on. Learn to identify pitch types and read the trajectory of pitches. If you get an early read on a ball in the dirt you will be able to advance to the next base more easily.
Improve Your Basestealing Speed
Obviously, to be a good base stealer, you’re going to need to be a fast runner. But even if you’re just average, there are things you can do to improve your time running between bases. Doing exercises to help strengthen your leg muscles can help as well as performing drills that work on agility and footwork can also make a difference. In addition, learning and practicing more about proper technique when running can also help to improve your times.
Learn More: Offseason Conditioning for Baseball
These are just a few tips that can help you and your team steal more bases and hopefully score a few more runs.