Old School Introduction
What is the Old School system?
This is what I call the basics of base stealing. You must have this foundation to move on to any of the more creative leadoffs and steal types. The terminology in this section is what we use but is open to whatever you would like. The important part is to know where you are on the field at all times. We achieve this by how we talk to ourselves when getting a leadoff.
The Old School System
- Everything measured with your back foot
- Right, Left, Shuffle, Shuffle gets you to about 12′ (shuffle is the word we use but you will notice we are not bouncing – one foot is always in contact with the ground in case the pitcher quick picks)
- Maintain an athletic position – most runners get too low in their Old School leadoff.
- Right foot crosses, then dive – should be quick back to the bag just as we would getting a jump to second… quick both ways.
- Hand slides into the base it doesn’t land on the base
- Chest gets to the floor early – even 6’4″ guys should reach for the base
- Arms stay tight
The Secondary Leadoff
- Shuffle, shuffle, read
- The secondary must be timed – you cannot be stopped when the ball enters the hitting zone
- A good secondary encourages great dirt ball reads and great jumps going first to third
The Secondary Return (catcher back pick)
- The left foot should find the center of the base
- You should create a strong position with your body to force a perfect throw
- The runner should not force contact but rather hold a strong position ready for contact
- A poor throw on the fair territory side of the base should end up in the outfield
The Delayed Steal
- Shuffle, shuffle, land, go
- It is about being a good actor and not about being fast
- A good delayed steal capitalizes either on a lazy middle infield or a lazy catcher
Steal Starts in the Old School System
The Old School Jump
- Start in an athletic position with your feet slightly staggered
- Aggressive arms initiate a great start
- A proper arm swing will encourage your knees to get up and in a proper sprinting position
- Use individually on the starting motion – go with what is faster on the watch for that specific player
- False step vs. crossover step
- I can go either way here. I believe the natural movement is to take a false step or drop step with your front foot but your body does this all by itself. So our main focus is on arm efficiency first with a crossover step. All of my “crossover” guys do take a false step.
- False step vs. crossover step
The Steal Start
- Get a true time from 78′ (90′ – the leadoff)
- We do not slide and run through the base
- Do a lot of these – it is easy to get a time that is inaccurate because of the short distance
- This is the easiest tool to determine the best method to run – don’t do any crazy leadoffs if it isn’t necessary
We track steal starts often. It is critical that our players know how fast they can run 78′ without having to ask “can I go on this guy?” By the spring our players know exactly what pitcher/catcher combinations they can out run. Again, we don’t want to be fancy or creative if the pitcher’s time tells us we can out run the ball.
I like doing 3 steal starts per practice in the fall. I tell the players their time and then document the time on the sheet below (download). The next week we will try to beat that time or we will do some simple punishment (5 pushups – something more annoying than difficult). Steal start practice is a perfect time to modify your old school jump to see what works fastest for you. We time these off the runner’s first movement (so these are all Old School jumps) and without a slide at second. This also allows players to see how much faster they are with our other leadoff types in the future.
For example, Ryan Fucci ran a 3.37 steal start at the beginning of the fall with his Old School jump. To show the effectiveness of his other leadoffs we ran New School jumps after week 5 where he ran a 3.14 (stopwatch starts at 12′ not at the first movement). This allowed Ryan to feel confident in his other leadoff types. You can mix these up however you see fit.
- Too often base stealers slide with no plan in mind – you have to keep your eyes open and have the ability to adjust.
- Basic slide – head first through the base using it as a speed bump.
- Feet first – If posture is leaning back then you want to apply this type because the lean of your body.
- Hook slide – the ball has beat the runner but not by much and the infielder is reaching.
- Emergency feet first – attempt pop up a few feet before the base and step over the tag.
- Swim slide – When you are dead in your tracks but not so much you should get in a run down. Head first slide, roll to your side away from the infielder, reach for the base with the opposite hand.