Make your first step One Step... Not Two.

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JoshuaPerich Bio-2

This is another "Hot Topic" in baseball lately simply because there is a little truth in both methods. However, this is one area where I feel that what was taught historically is still the best way.

Too often than not when a player is starting from a base running position, they will take their right foot and they will step toward their left foot (in the completely opposite direction of where they want to go). They do this in order to try to get their center of gravity over their feet which is what they need to do in order to use the drive from their legs to propel them toward the direction they want to go. Though counterintuitive, the first move when starting from a base stealing position isn't a step at all, but a fall.

In the time it would take for the untrained player to take his reverse step to get his weight over his legs, a trained player would have thrown his upper body over his right leg to achieve the same position only 3 feet further to his goal.

Now you will find hundreds of videos from old men dressed in baseball pants telling you that they now look at the tapes and see that all base stealers take a drop step when they take off. However, I would argue that what they are seeing and what they are saying the base runner is doing is not exactly the same. Now, I will admit that if you look up videos of major leaguers stealing bases and all you are looking at are the base runners feet, it will
appear that he is taking a step back before going forward. However, I would also argue that if you look at their upper body you would see it being pushed over his right foot which he is rotating (maybe taking a slight step back to turn his foot) in order to allow for his left leg to drive straight toward the next base.

Often times this new basis for why the step back method is the revolution of these coaches is flawed on two accounts. First they are misrepresenting the crossover movement, and second they are often using really fast guys as their models.

First let me explain that the crossover move that I prefer is not you throwing your left leg and arm over your right foot, but for you to drop your upper body over your right leg to achieve the "Sprinters Position" that you would be trying to achieve by dropping your right leg (again, only 3 feet further). See the below video which shows in slow motion exactly what I am talking about.

Secondly, almost every video I found proclaiming that the drop step is the preferred method is with a video of a big leaguer who is
really fast. Let me be the first to inform you that if you run a sub 6.5 sixty yard dash, you will be able to get away with a few minor mistakes. However, if you look at the tapes closely, often times you will see that though it does appear that their foot is taking a reverse step and more often than not, they are simply rotating their right foot, and their first move is mostly their upper body falling over their lead leg. Below is one such video which is a good example.

Honestly, either way has some basis as to why it works and is better than the other method. I have found that after teaching it correctly, the crossover method worked best for my players as well as myself, but it is easy enough to test for yourself. Get out there and try both, however, I would argue against trying to use a stopwatch. Try the tennis ball drop test. For those of you who do not know what the tennis ball drop test is, it is pretty much how it sounds. Have a friend stand roughly 10-15' away from you (while you are standing in a base stealing position), and extend his arm out to his side parallel to the ground with a tennis ball in his hand. When he drops the ball, you take off and try to catch the ball before hit bounces for the 2nd time. The below video gives an example, only the runner should be standing in a base running position (as if the ball being dropped was 2nd base), and the guy dropping the ball should not throw it down (simply drop it).

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