The main skill to have that can guarantee you a spot on any softball team at the next level is quality base running. Below are a few tips that will elevate one's base running techniques:
1. Lead Offs
When leading off, it is important to come off the base as if one was stealing every time. The opposing team should never know when the runner is leading off or stealing. Next, make sure the runner is about a step and a dive away from the base they are leading off from. When getting to this distance one must be out quick and back quick. This means that the runner leads off hard and quick and then once the runner sees the ball through the zone, they quickly retreat to the bag.
As a runner stealing, a good rule to live by is if "you are not early, you're late." This means stretch the umpire and try and get as big of a jump as possible. When stealing second, the runner should always slide tot he front, left, corner of the base (unless the ball has beaten the runner there). The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, so the runner needs to slide straight into the bag. I recommend a pop up slide as to make it appear as though the runner has beaten the ball to the base and deceives the umpire into thinking the same thing.
3. Down or Round
This is a great rule of thumb to live by as a base runner. Unless the batter has hit a stand up double or a home run over the fence, a runner should always be down or rounding a bag. When a runner slides into a bag, strides are never broken and the runner can easily get up and proceed to the next base should an error occur. Rounding allows for the runner to see the play develop and then judge whether or not to advance or stay put. It also allows for the gap between the runner and the next base to be shortened, should an error occur as well.
4. Hesitate Stay Put
When base running, there are times as a runner we get caught up or second guess ourselves. The rule to abide by when this happens is, "hesitate, stay put." This means if there is any physical or mental hesitation, then just stay put because by the time the decision is made on whether or not to advance, the runner is late.
5. Always Want the Next 60ft
Lastly, but most importantly is always want the next 60ft as a base runner. If one can live by this motto, one will run and play anywhere in the country. Get to the next base anyway possible. Learn to read the spin on the ball, predict what the ball is going to do and react to it. A ball in the dirt or above the catcher's head, the runner should always be at the next base. An overthrow from an outfielder to an infielder, the runner should be able to take the next 60ft. When an infielder does not hold their bag until the ball gets back to the pitcher, take the next 60ft. An overthrow to first base, do not break stride; take the next 60ft. This rule will undeniably make the difference in winning and losing ball games. Getting into scoring position by taking advantage of defensive mistakes allows for one timely hit to score a run, rather than trying to give up outs to produce them.
All in all, if one can master these five steps of base running, one can play anywhere in the country just as a base runner alone. Mastering base running will definitely allow for a college coach to notice. It is an art that has been lost and not really taught much anymore. Practice base running and these steps will then become instincts, which are hard to find!