Speedy steps for the win
| 2 min read
This concept is a confusing one for young kids to grasp – run through 1st, but don’t even think about it at 2nd or 3rd. And which base is 1st again?
Luckily, kids love to run, and practicing blowing past 1st is a kid-favorite. So, amp up your cheering, pointing and high-fiving — this is going to be fun! Longtime baseball coach Dan Keller, founder of Dugout Captain, shares his tried-and-true tips to keep kids moving forward.
Step one: step on 1st base. It has to be said. Even at the older ages, some kids miss the bag completely. That’s an out. Making contact is key – and worth emphasizing often.
Encourage your players to stay in stride as they run over the bag. This will help them maintain their speed all the way through. “Run through the base, go a couple more steps, then slow down,” says Keller.
For the youngest ages, just getting them to run through 1st base is the priority. But once that’s down, get players in the habit of looking right as they cross the bag. They’ll start to listen to directions from the 1st base coach. Older kids should be on the lookout for an overthrow of 1st – and the opportunity to make it to 2nd.
Set up two cones 10 feet past first base – like a finish line. A coach stands just past the cones. Direct your players to run through the cones, then scuff their feet to slow down. “We tell our kids to kick dirt on the coach,” says Keller.
Have them turn right and touch the fence before jogging back to the line at home. That way, you create an assembly line where players don’t have to cross in front of each other to queue up again.
Put safety first by preventing collisions – but at the same time, you’re teaching kids to turn to the right and avoid a potential out. Even a slight turn to the left could signal a steal and a fielder could tag the runner out.
Dan Keller is part of MOJO’s Partnerships & Strategy team.