Baseball Rundowns

Baseball Rundowns:

Less throws, more outs

By: Coach Manny Perez Jr. Bio


Rundowns, also known in the sandlots around the nation as “pickles”, are a vital part to any championship defense.  A rundown is when a base runner is caught in-between two bases as the defense tries to collect an out on that errant base runner.

Often time rundowns are neglected at practices but yet become very vital in close games where an “easy” out must be collected in order to win a contest.


Key Concepts:

  1. Always work the runner to the base he came from.
  2. Two or fewer throws has a better success rate.
  3. Communicate with your teammates properly and have good decision making skills.
  4. Practice as often as possible.
  5. Get the out!

As a high school baseball coach I am always open to new ideas, strategies, and philosophies.  I believe that being open minded towards other coaching philosophies is what promotes growth and success.  The following article is how I coach and teach my rundowns.

First I start with the basic approaches of a rundown.  Remember, the base runner is already caught between bases so it is important to be positioned correctly and in the correct location for an effective rundown.  Positioning is important because as a defender you are trying to minimize the base runners maneuvering space, while trying to get an out by avoiding any obstruction call, and being in good position help make a clean and obvious out.

To minimize maneuvering space of a runner, he should be squeezed by the two defenders (but careful, not to squeeze too hard or the runner will run past the defender).  When squeezing a runner, the defender with the ball should always go full speed towards the runner taking control of the situation.  While running towards the runner, you want to hold the ball up by your ear where your teammate can clearly see the ball.  Now pay attention to the runner.  If he turns and retreats to the base he came from, your teammate (the other defender) will call “ball” and start his momentum towards you and the runner.  At the call of “ball”, the defender with the ball then throws the baseball to his teammate who has already begun to take steps in that direction in attempting to collect the out.  After throwing the ball to your teammate, it is very important to veer off out of the baseline and avoid obstruction.  After veering off you follow your throw to the other end and become a backup.  Now the defenders have all the momentum and the speed of the base runner is worthless to the rundown.  Now if the runner does not turn and run you simply continue to run full speed and tag him out.



Keys to remember:

  1. Player with the ball:
  • Hold the ball by your ear in your throwing hand.
  • Execute full speed, not allowing the base runner to dictate the pace.
  • Veer off to the side to clear from the chance of obstruction.
  • Follow your throw and become a backup.
  1. Player at the retreat base:
  • Set up between 2-4 feet from the base.  This will allow you to make a tag in front of the base opposed to directly above it.
  • You are calling ball.  Do it with proper timing so that the runner doesn’t run by you while you wait for the ball.
  • Remember to start your momentum as you call for the ball.
  • You must be able to catch the ball on the move. Chances are if you can’t you won’t be on the field.

More key concepts:

  1. NEVER pump fake the baseball.  Hold the baseball high and steady and listen for your teammate to call for the ball.
  2. If you are a 1st baseman and the rundown is because of a pickoff play, come to the ball thrown by the pitcher and position yourself inside the baseline to make a throw to 2nd base.  This will help you avoid having to throw through the runner.  It is also very important to set your feet for this throw.
  3. Also teach your outfielders to crash lightly anticipating an over throw and possibly  salvaging the easy out.  Teach them to angle according to the direction of the throws, this way they can be in the correct position to make a play in the event of a bad throw by your infielder.
  4. Practice it as often as possible and take pride in an easy out.