Art of the Delayed Steal

One of the best-kept secrets in baseball is the delayed steal. The success rate should be around 90 percent and the runner does not have to be fast. It causes confusion and oftentimes can be used several times in the same game without a team realizing what is going on.

Here is how to teach this offensive weapon and when to employ it in a game situation.

What is It..and When Should It Be Used?

The delayed steal is a method of taking base using more of technique, than actual speed or a good jump to get to second base.

The key is that the middle infielders are not checking their base after every pitch with a man on first base. In other words, a middle infielder must take a few steps towards second after every pitch. When the middle infielders do not do so, second base is ripe to be taken via the delay.

Delayed Steal Technique

Technique is absolutely the most important aspect of the delay. Too many kids try to get a good jump and it ruins any chance of making it to second.

The key is to take a secondary lead as you would on a pitch that you are not stealing on. For our purposes, a secondary lead is two wide shuffles.

One important note is the base runner must keep his shoulder square to home plate. The minute you open the right shoulder to second base you will tip off the defense.

It is also important to remember that a good secondary lead helps set up the delay for future use.


After the second full shuffle--the runner must make sure he FINISHES the second shuffle--the runner takes off for second base. At this point the ball has just about crossed home plate, but the first basemen has no idea that the runner took off for second. By the time he says anything the runner is about 10 feet from the bag and it is too late.

Some will argue that an alert catcher will see the runner and this is tough to argue. However, this is where the middle infielder’s lack of doing their job comes into play. Even if the catcher throws with normal timing, the middle infielders will not be at second base and nine times out of 10 the ball ends up in the outfield.

In most cases, the defense has no idea what just happened and oftentimes will start yelling at the first baseman for not yelling “he’s going.”

Another important note is the runner will be more successful if he slides headfirst. Is this a big issue? No, but every second counts.

The headfirst slide is better because in theory, the middle infielder is going to be late to the bag. Knowing this, it is better for the highest part of the base runner’s body to be closest to second base.

A second baseman who is late to second is more apt to be tagging the back part of the body, which in this case is the feet, which are now closer to the ground and tough to tag.

One other note: Since the runner is not looking for a great jump he must NEVER get picked off when attempting a delayed steal.

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