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NFCA Drill Of The Week: Baserunning

Name of Drill: Pre-Practice Warm-Up Drills.

Equipment Needed: Home plate, bases.

Explanation of Drill: At the beginning of every practice, after we have jogged and stretched, we used to do our form running, high knees, skips and so forth. This year we have changed our routine to make our running more applicable to the game and it has proven to be very effective in building muscle memory for every part of running and baserunning.

We start at home plate and each player walks down the line to first base using high knees and hands going cheek-to-cheek. Once the players arrive at first, they turn in toward the field and break down into an athletic stance. They walk back to home and repeat a second time. They walk back to home again and now, still with high knees and hands in motion, they jog at 50 percent to first, make a good turn and continue on to second, concentrating on the form and a good turn at first. From second base, they jog straight back to home and repeat the process.

After the second jog to second base, they go to first base and, one at a time, assume a rocker start. They leave first base at 100 percent (eyes and shoulders facing second base). On their third step, they turn their head to the plate where a coach has one hand in the air and any number of fingers up. The runner must call out the number the coach is showing and then continue her run through second to third base. The players "easy jog" back to first and repeat one more time. After this second lead off first, they proceed home and run home to home two times, concentrating on form and turns at each base, completing the drill.

We found it took only two practices for the players to remember the rotation. We use a coch in the middle of the field to call out reminders about their form, breakdowns and turns.

This has accomplished a number of things for us:

1. The form running is reinforced at every stage;

2. Breakdowns at first base have becom automatic as the repetition every day has improved muscle memory;

3. Turns at all bases have become more crisp;

4. Leads off first base are much more explosive and convince our opponents we are stealing much more often;

5. Leads off first base are much more explosive and convince our opponents we are stealing much more often.

We also make a contest out of baserunning during games. Whichever player can get the opponent's bench to yell, "she's going!" the most times during a game gets some small prize, maybe a candy bar or a soda. The girls love the competition.