Base Running Drill: Runner at Second Base “Decision Drill”

runner at 2nd drill

This drill was developed due to a fatal mistake that I had made.  The mistake was using the most ridiculous 6 word sentence that any coach in any sport  ever uses, which is, “THEY SHOULD KNOW THAT BY NOW!”  Never assume that your players know the right things to do, especially in situational aspects of the game.  Just because you might be a good teacher of the game doesn’t mean that any other coach that your players have had are good teachers. What I was running into was, that when runners were on second base with less than 2 outs they were getting greedy on ground balls hit to 3rd base and shortstop.  They would wait for the infielder to throw the ball and then attempt to take third base.  Or, they would increase their secondary lead so much that they were too far from 2nd base. Some of you are reading this and are thinking, that’s what  they should do.  I will admit that in little league and against some of your poorer junior high and high school competition, that getting to 3rd base in this situation is very easy, but I don’t think that is the correct way to prepare young baseball and softball players for real competitive situations.  In reality, a good team will look the runner back, fake a throw to first and pick the runner off at 2nd base, or throw over to 1st base and the 1st baseman will throw the runner out at third. I just don’t think that kids are consistently given a set of rules for how to react when they are a runner at 2nd base with less than 2 outs.

Needed for this drill:

  • 1st baseman, 2nd baseman, SS, & third baseman
  • Line of base runnersin short CF. Don’t be afraid to have 2 base runners go during each repetition. Have one runner stand deeper than the other runner. This is a good way to increase reps.
  • Coach and catch-in person at home plate

Here are the rules for the base runners that they are given before we run this drill:

  1. Ball hit in front of you (3rd base side of the runner) take two steps back towards 2nd base.  Find 2nd baseman in order make sure the throw from 3rd or SS isn’t coming to 2nd base. Basically, it a no go.
  2. Ball hit at you, break for 3rd base.
  3. Ball hit behind you (2nd base side of the runner), break for 3rd base.
  4. Make sure line drives get through. There is nothing worse than losing a runner at 2nd base on a line drive to SS, especially to end and inning. What a momentum killer!

Benefits of the drill:

  • Runners get realistic look at an awkward baseball situation
  • Emphasizes the important of being in scoring position and how not to lose it
  • Infielders get to simulate a real situation too. 3b and SS get work looking runners back. 2b gets to react back to the base. All of them get fielding practice.
  • As a coach, you can have a runner make a mistake on purpose.  This will lead into more coaching points. For example, have a runner get off to far and get in a rundown.  Rundowns can never be practiced enough.
  • Players are forced to think!!! And they are given the tools to make it easier.

If you have any comments or suggestions please feel free to comment. Your thoughts are welcome!!!

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll probably enjoy the following:

Baseball Drill: “7 Point Drill”

7point drill


“7 Point Drill”

A little history on the drill. We were having trouble getting our base-runners to take challenging lead-offs at first base. I wanted them to find their own lead-off limits. We had tried doing drills with base-runners only, base-runners and pitchers only, and etc. It still wasn’t getting better. So, I thought, let’s make it as close to a game situation as possible. In the end, there is ZERO DOWN TIME for any player, which is what I think makes a good drill. The greatest part about drills like these is that there will always be a player that succeeds & a player that fails. It happens on every rep. Therefore, the chances for coaches to teach and also reward with praise become unlimited.

  1. Base-runners (BR) – Working on straight steal, delay steal, & etc.; reading picks
  2. Extra BR- Working on reading picks & yelling “BACK!!!” on a pick to first
  3. SS- Covering 2nd or backing up a throw on a steal; p
  4. 2B- Covering 2nd or backing up a throw on a steal
  5. Catcher(s)- Throws to 2nd base, pitch outs
  6. Pitchers- picks to 1stbase, slide steps to home, pitch outs
  7. 1B- Holding runners, tags, communicating “Runner!!!” on a steal, getting in fielding position after a hold


You can include CF & RF for backing up throws. It really depends on the size of your roster. Also, eliminate one of the points if need be.  For example, if you’re looking to give your catchers’ arms a rest, modify the drill.   Also, I recommend using cones as starting landmarks for the SS an 2B. The middle infielders will have a tendency to cheat if you don’t.  

The extra base-runners need to be LOUD. For me, that’s the only punitive aspect in the drill.  It doesn’t take much physical effort to use your mouth, but I do expect a big mental effort while they are waiting to be the runner. A few push-ups will usually cure that scenario. I want the same mental effort in the dugout during the game.

This drill can be done with one coach if the team is disciplined correctly, but I usually don’t place it in my practice plan if I don’t have at least 2 other coaches that day. The 1st time it will take 30-40 minutes to set up and run.  As the season progresses and expectations of the drill are clear, 20 minutes will be sufficient.

Softball Modifications:

  1. 1B- Covering snap throws from C
  2. Base-runners- getting a good secondary lead from 1st & 2nd base, variety of steal options
  3. OF- should always be included
  4. C- snaps to 1st  or 2nd