Base Stealing: Jab Step Progressions

My recent post on the “Jab Step vs Crossover” sparked many questions about how to perform the jab step correctly.


Often times athletes perform this movement naturally, but over the years they may have been coached out of it. Another common problem aside from the crossover (I cringe even when I type it) is the “squish”. This occurs when the athlete, instead of “pushing” to initiate a 90 degree turn to acceleration, pivots both feet towards the target and then takes off. Literally think of squishing a bug under each foot as you turn to run; that is exactly what some athletes do.


As each athlete is unique, so is the approach to correct the motor pattern needed to successfully steal a base. With that said, below is a simple progression I developed to integrate into my athlete’s routine.


Half Kneeling


For acceleration in general I love using kneeling starts to teach an athlete how to generate force into the ground, maintain posture, and create desired shin angles. Specifically, the half kneeling rotational sprint is a staple for all of my field sport athletes, especially when teaching base stealing technique. It puts athletes in a position to only be able to push through their trail leg to initiate the movement; eliminating the ability to “crossover.”


How to: click here for video

  • Get in half kneeling position perpendicular to target

  • Outside leg will be forward along with inside arm

  • Position forward knee over inside edge of foot

  • Explosively push through forward leg and drive outside arm across body to sprint


Single Leg


Now we are progressing to the standing position, but we are eliminating the inside leg. The only choice is to use the outside leg when initiating the run. This progression relies on the upper body a bit more. In order to run in a straight line towards your target, the torso must rotate 90 degrees in the direction you want.


How to: click here for video

  • Line up perpendicular to target and balance in a quarter squat position on outside leg

  • Drive through outside leg

  • Outside arm will rip across body

  • Inside arm will elbow back


Single Leg Lateral Hop


This may be my favorite of the progressions as it uses the reflexive ability of the ankle, knee, and hip to initiate the sprint. Additionally, it puts the shin in a great angle to boost acceleration. As you hop laterally to start the drill, your shin will drop closer to ground allowing more of a horizontal push into the turf.


How to: click here for video

  • Same starting position as single leg

  • Hop laterally over a line

  • Drive through outside leg

  • Outside arm will rip across body

  • Inside arm will elbow back


Rapid Taps


The common theme of the aforementioned progressions is only allowing one leg on the ground. This ensures the inside leg will not initiate the movement. For rapid taps, I like to use this as a reactionary drill. The less the athlete thinks at this point, the better. They already established the motor patterns desired with the previous drills. Now it’s time to go!


How to: click here for video

  • Start in lateral stance

  • Feet positioned outside shoulders

  • Start by rapidly tapping feet on floor as fast as possible

  • Coach claps/whistles/yells and athlete takes off


Like stated previously some athletes already perform the jab step naturally. This progression is for those who need to relearn the movement or who are not efficient in completing the “jab step”. I recommend 3-4 sets of 2-5 reps at most (both sides of course). The volume should remain low and the intensity should be through the roof! Like I always say to my athletes, “If you want to be fast, train fast!”


After reading, I hope you have a better understanding of how to progress an athlete to a more efficient jab step. If you have any questions, please let me know below!


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