Basic Base Running Tips for Baseball and Softball

Based in Cohasset, Massachusetts, R. Scott Bushley is a partner focused on finances and operations at Granite Point Capital in Boston. When he is not overseeing the firm’s finance and business operations, Scott Bushley spends time as a baseball coach and member of the Cohasset Youth Baseball and Softball Association board of directors.

Base running is a common element of baseball and softball that cannot be overlooked by coaches, particularly at the youth level. Certain elements of base running are hard and fast rules of the sport, while others are matters of etiquette or strategy.

An example of an important base running rule involves overrunning first base. In virtually any other instance, a runner who is tagged by the ball while not standing on a base is declared out. However, the rules permit players to continue running beyond first base without risk of being tagged out, so long as they quickly turn around and head back to the base. Players do not have to turn into foul territory, but if they make any attempt to progress to second base, they are no longer safe.

From a coaching perspective, the first base rule is a good opportunity to encourage players to try their hardest and attempt to outrun a throw. This is not only a lesson in sportsmanship, but also it’s a strategic decision, as forcing a quick throw to first can result in an error.

A similar element of base running strategy involves sliding into the home plate. At the youth level, there is no rule stating that a player must slide into home. However, youth coaches often instruct players to slide into home whenever there is even a remote chance that there might be a play at the plate so that runners stay in the habit of sliding to avoid contact with the catcher.