by Josh Shapiro October 19, 2017

Who taught you how to steal a base?

Was it your dad? Your coach? A dad coach?

Maybe you were a lucky one, and aspeed coachtaught you.

Yet, there is no defined way of stealing a base that coaches of any type agree on. They throw out notes and ideas that range from good to absolutely terrible.

The reason no one really know is because the biggest key to stealing bases and being faster on the basepaths is simple:you need to get faster.

I know this is groundbreaking, but at the end of the day, we can trick and create efficiency of movement, but fast people are fast, even when they do the wrong thing.

Then coaches will use this fast person as the crux for why they are right and so smart, but they usually don’t know what they are looking at.

Let’s look at Jacoby Ellsbury in frames:

This position is solid, though it could be tightened up. The right hand is over-rotated, pulling him open to run but making it harder to get going later.

As you can see, the left leg is driving him towards second while the right hip opens to create a sharper angle and start rotation to open and sprint.We start with our left leg when we steal!

The left leg is still pushing and is fully extended, the right leg has struck the ground and is starting more power to second. His core is bracing quickly trying to overcome all the force he is creating, and his arms are trying to help, but his left hand needs to reach to second more, as when he drives his left leg across, he will need to throw his left arm back equally as hard. If it’s tight to the body it won’t produce a big push.

This is the start of a crossover.

Some speed coaches would say no, but the reality is that without training a crossover step, you won’t get faster at this transition. The crossover makes this position powerful and successful, or weak and you’re picked off.

The left leg has crossed over, and the upper body is a bit extra rotated to the left to counter this hard knee drive, and the right arm is still crossing his face. This reaction is part of the rotational component to starting and sprinting from a base start to a traditional forward sprint.

Remember that short left arm? Well it causes the right leg to stop extending because time as ran out. Your arms and legs time together to work in sync. If one is early, the other is late. Here the left arm was extended before the right leg could finish, stopping maximum extension.

This happens in game, but we need to train it to make it better over time.

Here he has directed his hips towards second, but is still over rotating to begin, this was due to the initial arm throw in image 1. With the right arm throwing hard across him, he is still fighting rotation 3 images later. This is why your start matters, and understanding a crossover is important.

While I would love the left leg more extended, we need to better overcome rotation first, his body can’t extend if it's moving too much somewhere else.

Now sprinting forward, the difference between image 3 and image 5 is mostly in the upper body and trail leg. No longer fighting to overcome rotation as much, speed begins to move forward in a true acceleration position.

A better extension and separation between his left and right legs leads to more ground covered and faster times. Always a plus.

At the end of the day, many athletes can improve these few steps for faster times and stolen base ability, but true improvements in speed will go a lot farther in creating a truly dominant player. As well as an ability to react quickly. In a short period of time, he has gotten moving and the ball hasn’t left the pitcher's hand yet.

Here is my hierarchy of stealing a base:

  1. Get stronger to overcome force
  2. Get faster to improve overall speed and ability
  3. Work on your lead and start position to give yourself any edge possible early
  4. Work on your reaction to visual cues (the movement of the pitcher's leg) to start faster
  5. Practice the transition from start to sprint using crossover drills and sprinting so that it feels natural and you can overcome mistakes.

As always, training is the key. A good training program will change more about performance than any single technique or drill ever will.

Now go swipe some bases.


Written by Bill Rom: Owner of Superior Athletics

Follow Bill @SuperiorAthleticsTraining on Instagram 

Josh Shapiro
Josh Shapiro

Josh Shapiro is the founder and CEO of Baseball Lifestyle 101. In 2013 he set out to build a community that connected lovers of the sport of baseball throughout the world. Today Baseball Lifestyle 101 is more than just a game; it's a way of life.

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