Coaching Academy: Rundown Defense
Teaching rundown defense does not need to be confusing. Below are some videos to help players and coaches understand how rundown defense when a runner gets caught in a rundown. There are a lot of ways that coaches teach rundown defense, we have had a lot of success at all levels implementing the techniques below.
Basic Rundown Principles
There are 3 key parts of a successful rundown play:
- Make as few throws as possible
- End at base the rundown started
- Fielders circle back after throw
Why circle back after the throw? If the fielders follow their throw, they are running into the base runner who is moving opposite of where the ball has been thrown. If contact is made, the runner is awarded the next base. To avoid this possibility just have the fielders circle back.
Where do Players Go? Front + Back Man
- Go to ball, get feet and hips around ready to throw to next base
- If runner is not running to next base, run hard at runner
- If waiting to receive ball on back side, wait 3 feet in front of bag
- Read runner, if runner running hard toward front base, wait for throw
- Read runner, if runner is moving slowly away from back base, shorten up
- If you are the 2nd player on the front side (pitcher going home after picking off guy at 3rd) you will always shorten up from the front side.
Role of Front and Back Guy in Run Downs
Rundown between 1st Base and 2nd BasePitcher goes to 1st and becomes 2nd player in rundown behind 1b
- If pitcher gets involved he needs to receive ball 3 feet in front of base
- If pitcher does not make tag on runner, he must run hard at runner
- Receives ball and immediately gets feet and hips around to throw ball to next base, but must read runner
- If runner is running hard, throw ball
- If runner is moving slowly away from 1b, then run hard at runner, dumping ball to short man when short man calls
- If runner is not running hard, throw goes to 2b and the shortstop will begin to shorten the rundown up
- If runner is running hard to 2nd, step out of baseline and go back and be 2ndman at 2nd base.
What Happens when we Pick Off a Runner at First?
Players Involved in Rundowns if the runner is picked off at First Base:
- 1st Base—First baseman and pitcher will be at the back bag (1st base) and shortstop and second baseman will be at the front bag (2ndbase)
- 2nd Base-Second baseman and shortstop will be at the back bag (2nd base) and pitcher and third baseman will be at the front bag (3rdbase)
- 3rd Base—Catcher and pitcher will be at home, and the third baseman and shortstop will be at the back bag (3rd base)
What Happens When you Pick Off a Runner at 2B?
Rundowns between 2nd Base and 3rd Base
- Shortstop or 2b receives ball and must get feet and hips around making a throw to next base, but must read runner
- If runner is running hard, throw ball
- If runner is moving slowly away from 2b, then run hard at runner, dumping ball to front man (3rd baseman) who calls for ball
- Other middle infielder becomes the back man and waits for ball 3 feet in front of bag
- 3rd Baseman reads runner
- If runner is running hard at 3rd base, stay just in front of bag and wait for throw
- If runner is moving slowly away from 2b, then begin to shorten up the rundown calling for ball
- Pitcher becomes the 2nd player at 3rd base. If pitcher does become involved he will shorten up the rundown from the front side.
Rundowns between 3rd Base and Home3rd Baseman gets feet and hips around ready to make throw, must read runner
- If runner is running hard for home, make throw
- If runner is moving slowly away from 3rd, run hard at runner dumping ball to catcher when he calls for it
- Waits for ball 3 feet in front of 3rd base
- If runner running hard at home, wait for throw just in front of home plate
- If runner is moving slowly away from 3rd, then shorten up the rundown and call for ball
- If pitcher becomes involved, he must shorten up from the front side
Final Thoughts on Rundowns
- Throw darts in the rundown. Have your players practice throwing darts (short, snap throws) on the run
- Don’t cross the stream! The front player must always see where the back player with the ball is (which side of the baseline) and match up. Never have your partner throw across the baseline. The front player makes the adjustment
- Front players always need to break down just a bit when receiving ball, anticipate a less than perfect throw!
- Back player in rundown
- Get feet and hips ready to make throw
- If no throw, then run hard at runner
- Front player in rundown, read runner
- If runner running hard at you stay
- If runner moving slowly away from base shorten up and call for ball