Most baseball players are taught from a young age to eliminate any “false steps” and use a crossover step when stealing bases.
I have always despised the crossover step. Sure, to the naked eye it may look like the right thing to do because we do not lose any ground, but at the same time it puts the base runner in a horribly inefficient position to accelerate.
Speed is all about putting force into the ground. To do that the feet should be landing directly underneath the hips, just like a sprinter would coming out of the blocks.
(notice the shin angle of the lead leg, this cannot be achieved with a crossover)
A crossover step in baseball does not allow for that type of force production and is doing players a major disservice because it takes away from their bodies’ natural abilities and puts them in positions that are much slower and much less efficient.
The Directional Step
This false step controversy is really just a basic misunderstanding of human biomechanics. This counter-step, or directional step, as it is commonly referred to as is the body’s natural flight or fight response that we all have. Our bodies are very smart and will instinctively reposition the feet to accelerate in the most efficient way possible.
The more force a base stealer can put into the ground with the right leg directly underneath his hips the faster he will be able to accelerate.
Here are two drills we love to do with our baseball players to reinforce this directional step:
Split-Kneeling Stance to Sprint
Double Lateral Bound to Sprint
Both of these drills eliminate any crossover step and allow the athlete to achieve the proper shin angle in the lead leg to put force down and back into the ground.