March 1, 2019
I give a lot of credit to the coaches I had playing travel ball in my high school days, where I learned to be an absolute monster on the base paths.
For those who know about my athletic ability with running, I HAVE NEVER BEEN A FAST RUNNER. NOT EVEN CLOSE.
When I played with ABD in Southern California, it was instilled in us that we were all capable of stealing bases. We were all capable of advancing on balls in the dirt and we always paid attention to every detail of our opponents.
I wrote up a document for my 14 U baseball team and would like to share it with anyone reading this blog post!
Click on the link below to download the free PDF! (Separate from this blog post.)
In 2013 I joined a baseball program that forever changed my life.
Amateur Baseball Development was ran by the late Mike Spiers, a man who developed a program with the likes of Nolan Arenado, Christian Yelich, and Anthony Rizzo, and countless professional and collegiate ballplayers.
Besides their unbelievable talent, one thing that stands out to me from these three guys is their baseball savvy.
Notice how he got a running lead before taking off to 2nd?
For one thing you don’t typically expect Rizzo, a 1st baseman with his size to steal a base. How did he pull it off?
Well for one he probably got a good read on the pitcher. Not only did he have a leg kick towards the plate, he probably didn’t do a very good job of holding the ball at various timing. Once Rizzo got his timing down, he took a calculated risk. That’s what base running is all about!
When you played with ABD, Mike was the facilitator of every team. Every team had its own head coach, but Mike was always keeping tabs on every game going on.
I remember one day I got a base hit and Mike walked into the dugout as I took my hard turn around 1st. While he was on the phone, he told me, “Mojica! You got 3 pitches to get to 3rd base.”
Mind you, Mike was an intimidating guy. When he told you to do something, it was in your best interest to do it.
My first thought was, “Oh sh*t!”
Early on in those playing days, I was still learning a lot of things with the game of baseball. If I thought about stealing, my mind was on not getting thrown out. When Mike told me to go or else, I could only think about stealing that base and beating the throw.
So what did I do? I took off on the very first pitch and the hitter fouled it off. As I headed back to 1st base I peeked at Mike and he said with a chuckle, “Well Mojica… now you’re really screwed!”
I laughed nervously for a split second, but I locked back in to the pitcher and stole 2nd on the very next pitch. I can’t remember if I ended up on 3rd that inning, but that was a day that I learned something.
I had good instincts to steal bases. I paid enough attention to the pitcher’s rhythm and knew what catchers would gun me out if I dared to run on them. What blew me away was how Mike knew I could steal when
Maybe it only took 1 pitch for him to see that the pitcher was slow to the plate. Or maybe he wanted to test me. If you knew Mike, he was probably just wanting to make me freak out, get thrown out, and get a good laugh.
Base running was instilled in us every day that we met up on a field with ABD. I even remember running at 10 o’clock after a game in Arizona because we sucked so bad in that game.
Not only was it constant practice, but a constant discussion.
How can we take the next base? Do I have to steal to make it happen? Can I draw a throw to help the guy on 3rd to score? How about a delayed steal on this lazy catcher?
Base running is an art that doesn’t take a lot of talent, but a lot of skill. We can’t improve much on our abilities, but we can always develop the tools to get that much better. You don’t need Rickey Henderson’s speed to be a great base runner, (although it probably helps to be able to steal over 1,000 bases).
You just have to pay attention to detail.
The PDF “Becoming a Speed Demon” is geared towards the age group of my 14 U team, but it goes over a lot of fundamentals of base running.
Fundamentals are essential from tee-ball and all the way to the Major Leagues.
If you or someone you know could benefit from this base running manual, please make sure to download and share. Share it with a player, parent, or coach and talk about how your team can get better at the base running game.
Expand on it with your own ideas and share your comments on this blog and other Mo Baseball Training media on Facebook and Instagram.
When it comes to base running, take calculated risks and go all in. Run hard and get dirty! As the great Rickey Henderson once said,
“If my uniform doesn’t get dirty, I haven’t done anything in the baseball game.”