Baserunning, in my opinion, is one of the most under taught skills in the game. Coaches spend minimal time drilling the basic fundamental concepts that players need to know to cut down angles and increase quickness.
In this post, we will talk about the “3 Look System” while running down the first base line. While playing in college, I learned this system, and very quickly realized how important locating the baseball out of the box was. It allows a player to assess where the ball is from the time it is hit until the play is over resulting in you being safe or out.
Very often, a player will hit the ball, put their head down and run as hard as they can. However, a lot can happen during the time in which the ball is hit, and a play is made at first base. The infielder can bobble the ball, they can throw it high to first base, or the ball may get through the infield to an outfielder. The runner needs to see all of this in order to take advantage of being safe, out, or advancing to the next base.
Here is a breakdown of how to perform the “3 Look System” correctly.
3 Look System:
Look 1- The hitter hits the ball and locates where the ball is out of the box.
Look 2- The second look happens about 3-4 steps into the player's sprint down the line. This look allows the player to see if anything different has happened since their first initial look (bobble, ball through the infield, etc.). If the ball happens to get through the infield for some reason, this is when the runner knows to belly out and take their turn creating a good angle towards second base as they round first. If they don’t see the ball get through early enough, this is when you see runners hit first base, and realize too late that they were suppose to make a turn.
Look 3- Look 3 happens when you realize that you are in fact trying to beat out an infield hit. When you hit first base you must make sure you hit the front part of the base, without breaking your stride. Head first sliding has actually been proven to slow runners down, so we want to avoid that. After you hit the front part of the base, you take your 3rd look over your right shoulder as you are breaking down. This allows the runner to see if the ball got past the first baseman on an overthrow. Remember, when you breakdown, you should sink your hips, and dig your heels into the ground as your brakes creating short choppy steps.
This “3 Look System” is only one part of the many aspects of baserunning. However, getting out the box efficiently is probably one of the most important concepts. Try the “3 Look System” at your next practice during your baserunning drill period.