Baseball Lead Off

Baseball Leading Off

Base running and stealing bases are both essential parts of a baseball game. However, it is extremely hard for players to steal a base when they are 90 feet away from the next. Thus, base runners will take a few extra steps off the base to give themselves a head start. Read on to learn about leading off in baseball, including what it is and how it is executed properly.

Leading Off

Leading off in baseball is the act of a base runner getting a head start at advancing to the next base by taking steps off of the base in the direction of the next base. This can be an effective tactic for stealing base but may result in a pickoff and tag out if the base-runner is not careful. This term should not be confused with the description of a batter batting first in an inning, known as leading off the inning.

Lead Off Rules

  • A player may take as many steps as they want off the occupied base in the direction of the next base.
  • Pitchers may attempt to pick off the base runner at any base.
  • If a pitcher attempts to pick off the runner without taking their foot off the rubber, they will be called for a balk and the runner will be given a free base.
  • If the runner is tagged off the base by a defensive player in a pickoff attempt, they will be called out.

How to Lead Off in Baseball

  1. Look at the pitcher first when you step off the bag.
  2. Step forward without crossing your feet (in case of sudden retreat).
  3. Make sure your moves are consistent so that each lead off looks the same.
  4. Don’t look back at the bag as you lead off, but memorize the distance for consistency.
  5. Don’t go much farther than 12 feet off the bag until there is a chance to steal or run.


What is leading off in baseball?

Leading off in baseball refers to when a base runner takes steps towards the next base while the pitcher is getting ready to pitch. Leading off gives the base runner a head start in getting to the next base. However, pitchers may attempt to pick off base runners that take too large of a lead off by throwing the ball to the covering defensive player for a tag out.