For many years, I have spoken about how important the hand speed is to an explosive start in base stealing. There are other sports where this concept applies as well, but none, in my opinion, are more important than the action of the hands when jumping.
I mention the hands, but obviously they are attached to your arms, so the arms must move quickly as well. The point is that I want the base runner to put his focus in the hands getting started. In other words, don’t tell him to have the shoulders move first and let the lower arm and hands follow behind. The hands should initiate the action.
Arms and Hands
The arms are bent and the hands are relaxed. Once the player decides to take off, the arm action is actually the first movement by milliseconds. The arms cannot be left behind. If they are, the player will be slightly delayed in getting into the acceleration phase of the steal. By focusing on the hands moving first, the legs will drive harder and quicker, and the upper body will turn to face second much quicker. Every little bit helps!
The arms will go from the relaxed position in front of the body immediately into the running action and in opposition of the leg action.
- The right arm gets driven back (as the shoulders turn) while the left arm drives forward in the up position of acceleration.
- The shoulders and upper body rotate with the arms and set the body up for an optimal acceleration position.
If the arms are slow to rotate into the running position, the upper body gets “blocked” and doesn’t rotate as quickly. This hinders the power and effectiveness of the first step of acceleration.
When the arms and hands rotate quickly this action causes a reaction of the left leg to push quickly and aggressively into the ground. This is extremely helpful in gaining a big jump. So get the arms and hands moving quickly!
Harmful Mistakes Taught
When coaches teach their players to rotate the arms away from second, or hold the arms long, or whatever other fancy technique they use, the effects are harmful to the first move from a biomechanical and force production standpoint.
- Theses actions can delay the arms from getting into the running position as quickly as possible.
- When the arms must rotate from a farther position than in front of the body, there can be a rotational force of the arms that spins the body away from second base. Don’t allow the arms to get away from the body and create a centrifugal force. Try to keep the arms moving in as straight of a line as possible.
- Finally, when a player is taught to rotate the arms toward the second base to get into the running arm position as soon as possible, the action reaction between the movement of the arms and the reaction of the left leg pushing into the ground is greatly diminished.