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Baserunning in Softball: How to Run to First Base

Running to first base requires more strategy than one might think. This softball guide will tell you everything you need to about know to speed down the base line.

Quick Steps Out of the Box

The first steps out of the batter’s box need to be explosive! Your first two strides should be short and quick. Within three full strides, you should be at full speed.

Pump Your Arms

A little known fact to many: The faster you pump your arms, the faster your legs will go! If you don’t pump your arms, you won’t ever reach your maximum speed. When sprinting down the line, make sure to pump your arms!

Hot Tip: Practice Pumping Your Arms!

As silly as it may seem, you need to practice pumping your arms if you don’t know how to do it correctly:

  • Bend each elbow so your arms are bent at 90-degree angles.
  • Point your hands forward, keeping your elbows at your sides.
  • Start pumping your arms. Each time your hands go down, think of trying to get your fingertips to the back of your hip.
  • Once you are comfortable with the motion, sit down with your feet extended in front of you. Start pumping your arms slowly; you’ll notice you don’t really move. Now pump your arms as fast as you can. Your hips should be bouncing off the ground

Run Through the Bag

Always run through first base. Never stop or slow down before you touch the base. Even if the ball is a pop-up or an easy ground out, “break the tape” and run through the bag. You’d be surprised how many times the ball is dropped and you have a second chance to help your team score a run.

No Leaping

A common and misguided technique runners often use is leaping to first base in hopes of beating out the throw. Do not do this. It may feel faster, but it’s not. It takes more time to leap through the air than it does to continue running through the bag, plus it creates a greater risk of injuring yourself.

Break the Tape at First Base

If you watch any track and field event, pay close attention to how sprinters finish their races. They literally break the tape at the end of the runway to win the race. This motion is exactly how you want to run through first base.

Although It might seem unnatural to “break the tape” at first base, this is the fastest way to get to the bag. What’s more, umpires sometimes see your upper body when you are running across the base instead of your feet. If the play is close and you “break the tape,” your motion may give the umpire the illusion that you have already tagged the bag (even if you haven’t), and you might earn yourself a safe call!

The Break-down

After running through first base and “breaking the tape,” the next step is to break down. After passing the bag, do rapid stutter-steps in order to stop your feet. You should typically be able to stop within three stutter-steps after first base.

Break down while turning your shoulders and body to the right so you are facing foul territory. By turning your back to the infield, you’ll be able to see overthrown balls and better judge whether you can aggressively take second base.

Go Hard!

There is no better feeling than beating out a throw and hearing “Safe!” Always run hard — if you think the ball is foul, run! Using the tips in this guide, your on-base percentage should increase in no time.

With every hit, you'll be running to first base. Use the tips in this softball guide to get down the line quickly and, more importantly, safely!
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