Tagging Out Runnners on the Basepaths
by Arnald Swift
When a fielder attempts to tag a baserunner that is well off the base the goal should be to do so in the torso.
Specifically, the safest and surest way to tag out a runner in the basepaths is to securely have the ball in the glove and then use the glove to tag the runner’s torso above the waist.
The torso, of course, is defined as the body minus the head, neck and limbs (arms and legs). It’s the central part of a person and thus provides ample mass to target for a tag, either in the back or in the front (chest and abdomen).
If a fielder bends down to try to tag the runner’s legs or feet, or even aims for their arms, then the baserunner has the opportunity to move and avoid the tag. But they’ll either go out of the baseline or be tagged out when a fielder strives to tag their torso.
This is the best method for tagging when a runner is advancing or retreating to a base (or home plate) while on the basepaths, as tags at the base/plate are executed differently (generally in the dirt just in front of the base).
While a very simple concept, it’s a good idea to go over this with younger players, as you can’t assume they’ll know where, or how, to tag a runner in the baseline.
So teach them to tag with the ball in their glove (not hand, as quite a few kids are apt to do) and in the area below the neck and above the belt, which are two reference points kids will be able to easily understand in lieu of the word torso.