Base Running 1: Rules of Thumb for Running Bases

Here are some rules of thumb for base running that will keep you from making major mistakes that hurt the team and will help you run bases like a pro.
Rules of thumb for good base running

Doug Bernier (author) on takes his lead from 1st. Image by Frank Lauri.

1. Don’t make the 1st or 3rd out at third base

  • If you stop at 2nd with no outs, the hitter can move you up to 3rd with one out so you can score multiple different ways without needing a hit.
  • If you stop at 2nd with 2 outs, you are still in scoring position, and you basically need a hit to score you whether you are on 2nd or 3rd.

2. Use the third base coach on plays you can’t see

  • Base running situation: You’re on 1st and the batter hits a single to left center field.  If you can see the ball the whole way, then you can decide whether or not to advance to 3rd on your own.
  • If you are a runner on 1st and there is a single hit to right field, that is when we look for some help from the 3rd base coach.  He is our eyes when we lose sight of the baseball.

3. Don’t get doubled off first base

As a runner on first, don’t ever get doubled up on a line drive to 3rd or shortstop.  In other words, be able to get back to first if the line drive gets caught.  There is no reason to be too aggressive on this play.  Even if the ball gets through the infield you will have to stop at 2nd anyway because the left fielder is there to hold you at 2nd.

In the heat of the game you don’t have time to ask questions, so it is expected that you know these rules of thumb.

I hope this article is helpful for you.  I invite you to ask questions or leave feedback in the comments section below.  For more base running tips, check out the articles below.

More on tips for Running Bases:

About Author

Avatar für Doug Bernier

Doug Bernier, founder of Pro Baseball, debuted in the Major Leagues in 2008 with the Colorado Rockies, and has played professional baseball for 5 organizations (CO Rockies, NY Yankees, PIT Pirates, MN Twins, & TX Rangers) over the past 16 years. He has Major League time at every infield position, and has played every position on the field professionally except for catcher. (You should click to watch this great defensive play by Bernier) Where is he now? After 16 years of playing professionally, Doug retired and took a position as a Major League scout with the Colorado Rockies for 2 years. Currently Doug is the Data and Game Planning Coordinator with the Colorado Rockies


  1. Avatar für Arturo Diaz

    Should a runner on 3rd base with one out and the number two batter in the line up at bat attempt to score on a ground ball to second base with the infield playing in? I was taught that in that kind of situation, the runner should wait until the ball got thru the infield before attempting to score. Suddenly, friends of mine are saying that on any ground ball the runner on 3rd base should be running on bat to baseball contact to exert pressure on the infielders.
    I, of course, am talking about what I am calling a Dodger base running blunder in Game 7 of the NLCS committed by Chris Taylor. Fortunately, in the end, everything turned out well for them.
    Would appreciate your clarification of this situation. If I was taught an incorrect practice, I would like to know, as I continue to pass along baseball knowledge to those that want to learn best practices.
    Thank you.

  2. Avatar für Randall Stewart
    Randall Stewart on

    If a runner is on 1st and a ground ball is hit to 1st baseman and the base runner does not leave the bag forcing the 1st baseman to tag that base runner and step on the bag to force out the hitter (double play) The hitter stops running halfway to 1st. Are both of these runners out or is the runner who never left 1st base safe?

  3. Avatar für scott

    Before any of this, base runner should check to see where outfielders are positioned. This will help them to be more decisive. Often overlooked detail.

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