Every baseball player in every league wants to be successful at stealing a base. If you are quick and daring and are able to move up, you are a temporary hero and one base closer to getting home. If you get caught, you are the goat. Here are a few tips to keep you out of the petting zoo.
First of all you need excellent balance and very fast speed. Generally your baseball coach will be telling you when to attempt stealing. He or she will know the strengths and weaknesses of each player so it will be unlikely that you will be given the go-ahead if you do not have the skill potential.
After balance and speed the most important elements are sight and the ability to read the pitcher and his moves. This takes practice, practice, practice. If you do not believe this is a challenge, just look at how many major leaguers and caught stealing. However, once they have achieved their level of success they have a lot more experience at taking risks.
Remember, we mentioned balance. The baseball player is going to saunter to a comfortable distance from the plate. By comfortable we mean that he feels he can get back should the pitcher try to pick him off. If the baserunner is leaning too far to his right, he will not have a good enough balance to shift back to the left in time. You want to stay in the middle right now.
The pitcher is always going to be looking over at you to see what you are doing. When you swing your arms or your hips, he may think you are running and make a wild pitch. If you do it enough he will think you are trying to distract him and just ignore you. Perfect!
Now, if you are standing away from first base do not watch your coach or anyone except the pitcher. Keep your eye on the ball. Most base runners will lead with a body length and one step. Once the pitcher has attempted a pick off you will be able to judge a safe lead for you. A big secret is to stand in front of first base closer to the pitcher. The runner should be as close to the pitcher as possible while still being even with the base. This gives the pitcher the idea that you are closer to bag than you really are.
Think jump. If you do not get a good jump you will most likely be tagged out. For right-handed pitchers only, focus on their feet. Pitchers have three options once they are in the set position. They can pitch, pick or step off – and of course, balk. When the ball is pitched to the plate, the first part of the foot to move will be the left heel. When a pitcher is not going home with the ball, the first part to move will be his right heel. You must focus on his feet. Left foot means go, right foot means get back on base quickly.
Also if you play against the same team and the same pitchers, it is almost like poker. Most pitchers have ‘tells’. One might take a deep breath prior to pitching to the plate. Another might hitch his baseball pants up in front. Be studious. Watch for the tells. Your coach should also be able to help you with these.