Base Running 3: Tips for running to first base

Base running starts the moment you as the hitter make contact with the baseball.  This article contains pro tips for successfully running to first base after you hit a ground ball through the infield, meaning more hits for you and more runs for the team.
Important baseball base running tips for getting to first

Base running tips and instruction – Running to first base. Image by Ed Wolfstein.

After Contact

You made contact with the baseball and hit a grounder through the infield.  Now what?

Step 1.  If a ball is hit on the ground put your head down and run as hard as you can with as much efficiency as possible.

Step 2.  After about three steps take a peek to see if the ball went through the infield.  If it doesn’t get through, you’re gonna run straight through first base bag. ( If it does get through, you’ll be planning a different route that will take you to 2nd base.  More on that below.)

Important Baserunning Tip

Have you ever wondered, “Why are there 2 chalk lines painted in the 1st base line starting halfway from home to 1st and continuing through the 1st base bag?”

The 45 foot line.   All baselines from home to first have a rectangular box that extends 3 feet outside the baseline starting halfway down the line and continuing towards first. This is known as the 45 foot line.

What it’s for.  The purpose of this line is for the runner to stay in this box when there is a bunt or any play that the ball could interfere with the runner. As long as the runner stays in this box he will be called safe. Getting hit by the baseball outside of this box results in an out.

Step 3.  Focus on the front part of the bag.  That is where your foot will hit, since it is the closest and safest spot to hit the bag when sprinting.

Stepping on the back part or the side of the bag increases your chance of turning an ankle. Always hit the front part of the bag.

Step 4.  After you hit the bag, stop your momentum by chopping your feet as quick as possible and turn your head to the right, just to see if the baseball got past the 1st baseman.

Pro Tip:  When coming back to 1st base, always turn to your right and come back, so the umpire never has the thought that you were thinking of going to second base. If he feels you were trying to go just for a split second and you get tagged, you will be called out.

If the ball gets through the infield

If the baseball is through the infield you are going to make a turn towards 2nd.

Tips for successfully running to first base, meaning more hits and runs

Running to 2nd, Greg Golson pushes off the inside of the bag to get a straighter path. Image by Frank Lauri.

Start Early. Start this turn early right when you see it went through – don’t wait until you are 20 feet from the bag.  Start early and make it a gradual arch.

Use the Base.  From this angle you want to hit the inside front part of the bag to push off of and try to get the straightest path possible to second (See image to the right).

Plan Your Path.  This is the exact path we want to take on a double or triple. We always want to try to attain the straightest path possible when going into a bag where there could be a potential play. It is the quickest way.

More on Running Bases:

About Author

Doug Bernier, founder of Pro Baseball Insider.com, debuted in the Major Leagues in 2008 with the Colorado Rockies, and has played professional baseball for 13 years. Most recently, Doug signed with the Minnesota Twins in 2013, where he logged time at every infield position except 1st base in 33 Major League games. Currently Doug is with the Twins' AAA team in Rochester, NY

3 Comments

  1. I’ve always found that hitting the base with the right foot makes the path to the next base just a bit straighter/shorter/direct and is actually a matter of controlling the length of stride and should never require a “stutter step”. Never was fast but was always an excellent baserunner due to “cutting the corner”.
    Some ballplayers are actually left leg/foot dominant and this may be a reason for hitting the bag with the left foot.

    • Eddie,
      Good eye noticing that he is using his left foot. In an ideal world you want to use your right foot but talking to people on our team about a third of our position players hit the bags with their left foot. I know I hit the bag with my left foot, and I believe it has to do with my stride length. It’s probably not as efficient as hitting it with your right foot but its faster than stutter stepping to ensure your right foot hits the ground. Thanks for your question.

      Doug

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