Some injuries are a part of the game… others are avoidable!

Learn how to stay out of harm’s way with some of my best tips for avoiding baseball injuries, specifically while running the bases. Injuries happen. Here’s how to have fewer of them.

Sliding At the 1st Base Bag

The only reason to slide into 1st base is to avoid a tag! Most guys are going to go in head first, but know that it’s not quicker to get there by sliding and it certainly puts the shoulder, hand, wrist, and fingers in jeopardy!

Coach’s Tip To Avoid This Potential Injury
Stomp the center of the base while running through the bag like a sprinter running through the finish line!

Leaping At The 1st Base Bag

You see this all the time. A hitter, frustrated with the weak dribbler he just hit off the end of the bat, tries to make up for it by hustling out the ground ball. He almost flies through the air with a long, last stride, just in time for his knee or ankle to go the wrong way when he lands. First of all, it’s slower to leap for the bag. And more importantly, hitting a corner or edge of the base (or the first baseman’s foot) can shorten a season and, at worst, a career!

Coach’s Tip To Avoid This Potential Injury
Again, approach the bag as you would the tape in a sprint: lean forward, pump your arms, and stomp on it on your way by. Don’t begin slowing down until you are a step or two past the base. Key your ears in to your first base coach and don’t forget to check the fence for an overthrow.

The Headfirst Slide

youth_baseball_late_slideI watched one MLB team’s season go down the drain when their young shortstop stole 2nd base and hooked the bag with his left hand to avoid a tag while sliding.

The tremendous force of his body sliding past the bag separated his left shoulder.  His ball club was completely out of the race within a month. They couldn’t find a suitable replacement to lead off or play shortstop. The infield didn’t have a leader and the bomb droppers had substantially fewer RBI opportunities.

This chain of events additionally caused management to spend money they hadn’t accounted for and they also began to rush younger players to the Big League level. What a mess! And all because of an avoidable physical mistake!

Coach’s Tip To Avoid This Potential Injury
Sliding, like everything else in this game, is about repetition and muscle memory.  If it’s practiced often and correctly, there is less chance for error when the game is on the line.  There are lots of ways to make sliding practice fun and easy. Add a tarp and a hose into the mix for a great end-of-practice cool down, too!

The Late Slide

Whether players are sliding feet first or head first, indecision is the enemy. Sliding late can create a number of avoidable injuries, including sprained ankles and wrists, some of which have the potential to be the most nagging injuries in the game.   

Coach’s Tip To Avoid This Potential Injury
hen in doubt, slide! Too much happens too quickly on close plays. Simply getting down keeps you away from the action. Plan to slide when approaching the next base and then make decision not to, instead of deciding to slide last minute.

Come see us at for more tips, training aids, and free articles.

2015 MLB Playoffs Provide Two Teachable Moments On Baserunning Injuries

Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays star outfielder slid late to break up a double play and was removed from the game when his head collided into the knee of the infielder at the 2nd base bag. He underwent concussion tests that fortunately turned out negative but was lost from the game and likely had residual effects that certainly could affect the rest of his team’s playoffs.

On the other side of this equation is the season-ending broken leg (fibula) suffered by Mets shortstop Reuben Tejada and what could be the tainted legacy of the awesome pro Chase Utley, who came in high, hard, and late. He was suspended for what could be the last two games of his team’s season.

All avoidable.