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Leading Off Second Base

Leading Off Second Base

When taking your primary and secondary leads, you do not want to be in a direct line between second and third base. You should be about two or three steps on the outfield side of that imaginary straight line going from second base to third base. You do this to give yourself a better angle when running into third base in case you end up trying to score.

When taking your primary lead off second, some runners like to keep an eye on the shortstop and second baseman themselves, without the help of the third base coach. I think it’s much better for the runner to watch the second baseman and the third base coach to watch the shortstop.

Quite simply, it’s much more difficult for the runner to watch the shortstop because the shortstop is usually behind the runner. On the other hand, the runner can see the second baseman very easily.

If the third base coach sees the shortstop starting to sneak in toward the base, he will simply yell to the runner, “back one” or “back two.” He’s telling the runner to shorten his lead by either one or two steps because there may be danger on the horizon. If he sees the shortstop is definitely trying to come in on a pickoff attempt, he will loudly scream,” BACK!”

On the other hand, if the coach thinks your lead is too small, he should yell, “off one” or “off two.” He’s telling the runner to increase the size of his lead because there is no threat of the danger to be picked off.

The most common mistake I’ve seen with players leading off second base, especially with youngsters, is that the lead is not big enough! If the second baseman and the shortstop are ten steps or so sway from second base, take a six or seven step lead.

Trust me on this one. They have a lot to do to pick you off. Just take a lead that’s a couple of steps less than they are from the bag. This will give you a little more time to get back because they may sprint to the bag and they may sprint a couple of steps before you know a pickoff play is on.

It just makes NO sense to be standing two or three steps off the bag when the two middle infielders are eight or ten steps away from second base. Those extra three or four steps that you should be taking can be the difference between you being out or safe on a close play at third base or when trying to score on a hit. They can determine the outcome of a ballgame.

What can be more frustrating than being thrown out at home by a step or two on a game deciding play? I’ll tell you what can be more frustrating.

Being thrown out at the plate by a step or two when you took a lead of three steps and you could have been taking a lead of six or seven steps. You would have been safe by several steps and giving teammates high fives instead of hanging your head. Avoid the very common mistake of taking too short a lead off second base and take whatever they give you!

Those few extra steps can determine the outcome of a ball game.