4 Tips for Stealing Third Base

With proper technique, stealing third base can be easier than stealing second. Here are some tips coaches can use to make their squad more aggressive on the basepaths and put pressure on their opponents.

A Healthy Lead

The proper lead should be as much as possible, without getting picked. I tell my guys to be straight in the base line. Some coaches will tell their players to start a few feet back with two outs so they have a better angle to score on a base hit. With proper technique in rounding a base, the runner does not need to take the "two out lead".

Why the Coach Matters

The third base coach is extremely important with a man on second. His job is to keep an eye on the shortstop and the second baseman.

Many youth coaches tell their runners that the coach has the shortstop and the runner has the second baseman. Remember that the number one rule of a base runner is to keep his eye on the ball. If a third base coach can't handle watching both players, then maybe he should be relegated to the dugout.

The most obvious tendency of a pitcher with a man on second is the number of looks he makes to second base. Many pitchers are "one lookers" and are extremely easy to steal off of.

However, even if a pitcher does a Good job of mixing up his looks he can still be exploited. As soon as there is a man on second base, the whole team should try to find out what the pitcher's maximum (max) amount of looks is to second base.

Time to Go

Stealing any base comes down to finding the pitcher's tendencies.

A good pitcher will vary these looks between zero and at least three. So, assuming his max is three, the baserunner should know that once the pitcher hits his max, he will not look again.

Here is where technique comes into play. There are a few keys here for execution.

Step 1: Find the Courage

First, the runner must have the guts to start movement towards third before the pitcher even lifts his leg to go to the plate. Most pitchers are pre-programmed to either pick or pitch. We are gambling a bit here, but the odds are in our favor.

Step 2: Start the Shuffle

Right before the pitcher lifts to go to the plate, the base runner should take two lateral shuffles towards third. The key here is to make sure he keeps his shoulders squared to home plate. In other words he makes no commitment towards actually going to third base, only a motion towards it.

If, when in his second shuffle, the pitcher's leg lifts, the runner can take off for third base. If the pitcher's leg does not lift, the runner just shuffles back to his original lead. Either the runner gets a great jump, or he at least distracts the pitcher and the defense.

Step 3: Take a Look (or Two)

Now you might be wondering, what if the pitcher mixes up his looks really well. It does not matter!

Before the runner takes his lead, he should decide how many looks he is going to look for. If he is going to look for one, he should shuffle after the first look. If the pitcher looks twice in this scenario, it doesn't matter; the runner will just shuffle back as his leg did not come up after the first look.

If the runner is looking for two looks, and the pitcher only goes with one before he pitches, then the runner just needs to wait for the next pitch. Another key for the base runner is to not show emotion while out on the bases. If he looks for one look, and gets one look, but doesn't feel comfortable with his jump, then he just doesn't go.

Step 4: Energy

Oftentimes a runner will show some sort of emotion in this scenario; this wakes up the defense. Once again, as is always when stealing a base, the runner must get the jump. Remember that the runner has a signal for a green light to steal not a signal to steal.

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