Basketball player by winter; baseball player by spring. It’s a common two-sport combination that leaves little time for training the specific skills each sport demandsunless you train for them together. According to Tim Robertson, owner and director of Speed Strength Systems [Cleveland, Ohio] and trainer to numerous NBA and MLB athletes, there are individual drills you can perform to improve quickness and agility for both sports.
“One is a zigzag drill, where you line up cones at diagonals and sprint from cone to cone,” Robertson says. “The drill works on acceleration, deceleration and change of direction, all of which are involved with both sports.” On the diamond, an example would be a pitcher accelerating off the mound to field a ball. In basketball, point guards are known for accelerating through the lane to attack the hoop.
Place five to seven cones five to seven yards apart in zigzag pattern
Start at first cone; sprint to second cone
Breakdown and cut around second cone; sprint to next cone
Repeat for entire pattern
Perform 5-10 reps of drill, 2 times a week
Get even more out of this drill by making it sport-specific. Check out Robertson’s adaptations.
Distance Set up the zigzag on a basketball court, extending from baseline to baseline.
Sport-Specific Moves Work your ball-handling skills by dribbling a ball as you move through the drill. “You can dribble with the same hand throughout the drill, switch hands after each cone, crossover dribble when you get to a cone or dribble behind your back when you transition from one cone to another,” Robertson says. Another recommendation is to alternate sprinting and laterally shuffling; sprint and dribble between the first two cones, then laterally shuffle and dribble between the next two.
Rest Since basketball requires more endurance than baseball, Robertson suggests using a 1:1 rest-to-work ratio between reps. That will improve your conditioning base.
Distance Set up the zigzag to cover 30 yards, the span between bases.
Sport-Specific Move Work your hand-eye coordination by fielding a ball while sprinting between cones. “Have a partner throw, roll or bounce a ball toward you so you have to catch the ball en route to the next cone,” Robertson says. “The goal is to be efficient with the movement. Get down appropriately by dropping your hips and lowering your center of gravity while simultaneously minimizing your speed to field the ball.” Once you field the ball, throw it to the side or toss it back to your partner.
Rest Baseball allows for greater rest between sprints. Use a 2:1 rest-to-work recovery. If it takes 10 seconds to get through one rep, rest 20 seconds before starting the next.