Friday Base Running Tips – Avoiding Pickle Problems
Being caught in a rundown (pickle) usually leads to an out at the higher levels of baseball. However, at the youth level, there is a better chance of escaping those base-running situations, especially for faster players. At either level, there are some things that base runners can do to help the situation and possibly get out of the pickle.
- When runners feel like they have a chance at being safe by running all out to a base, they should go for it and not get in the pickle. Forcing the defense to make a quick, under pressure throw is often better than getting in the run down in the first place.
- Once in a rundown, players should stay in as long as possible. The more throws the defense has to make helps chances of an errant throw and being safe. That, of course, takes stamina, so it helps when players are in good aerobic shape. Players can listen for defensive players to call for the ball, which may help them to know when to reverse course. Staying in the run down as long as possible is especially important when other runners are on base so other base runners can advance.
- Runners should look for players in the baseline without the ball. Base runners, who can run into a player in the base line without the ball, is ruled automatically safe for obstruction.
- Base runners should try to get in line with throws; when hit by the ball, it generally leads to runners being safe.
- Runners should watch for an unoccupied base and go for it – sometimes players forget to cover bases or are late getting to them.
- Runners should be ready to slide or dive to the base at the last moment; going low sometimes leads to high tags and safe calls.