3 Steps to the Optimal First Base Lead

Every coach wants their players to be successful on the basepaths. But it all starts with a smart, aggressive lead off of first base.

Here are three simple tips for teaching your squad to get a quality to lead at first--and put them in a position to score more runs.

Pay Attention

The number one rule as a base runner when you are not standing on the base is keep your eye on the ball.

In other words, when taking signals from the third base coach, the runner should have a foot on the base. Too many kids get picked off because they are watching their coach give signals while standing off of the bag.

Furthermore, a player should always watch the pitcher when taking a lead.

How Far Off the Bag?

Someone said your lead should be a body length and a step and this became the standard. Why limit yourself to a certain distance?

Now, I am not saying that this isn't a good reference point, but there are millions of kids out there who have never ventured beyond this point.

A better rule might be on your first lead, go with the body length and a step, wait for a pick-off attempt, and evaluate your lead. Some pitchers have quick moves, while others are rather slow. A base runner must take advantage of every opportunity.

Proper Footwork

As far as technique in taking a lead, there are several different methods.

I instruct my players to take a crossover step behind the right foot, followed by two sideways steps. This is a good base to work from and the lead can be extended or shortened from there.

The player should take his lead at the front edge of the bag. In other words, the runner should be as close to the pitcher as possible while still being even with the base.

The purpose of this lead is to give the pitcher the perception that you are closer to the bag. A pitcher who isn't worried about the base runner will soon find the base runner no longer on first base.

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