If you watch some of baseball's best base stealers, like Jacoby Ellsbury and Jose Reyes, you'll quickly appreciate the three keys to stealing a base—reaction time, a quick jump and top end speed down the basepath. If you can make your jump quicker and sprint faster, your chances of sliding in before the tag will be greatly improved.
Although base stealing has certain nuances that drills won't necessarily improve—like reading the pitcher's motion and knowing the best time to steal—every other facet can be improved by developing your reaction time, quickness and speed.
Stealing bases is a critical skill to develop if you want to add value to your team. Prior to the start of the season, perform these drills every other day during your speed workout.
Tennis Ball Drops (Reaction Time)
This drill develops quickness and improves reaction time. After you master the drill, assume a base-stealing stance to improve your transition from stance to sprint.
- Start in three-point or base-stealing stance on line five yards away from coach
- Coach raises arm with tennis ball in hand
- Once ball is dropped, explode forward to catch it
- Try to catch ball before it bounces twice
- Repeat for specified reps
- Coach takes two steps back to increase distance after successful catch
Sets/Rest: 10-15 with 15 to 30 seconds rest
Standing Broad Jumps (Quick Jump)
This drill develops explosive power in the legs and hips so you can explode out of your stance and quickly reach top speed.
- Stand in relaxed and ready position
- Bending hips and knees, sit back into quarter-squat
- Exaggeratedly swing arms back
- Quickly swing arms forward and simultaneously explode with legs to jump
- Propel body forward as far as possible
- Land with stable base; absorb impact by allowing body to return to start position and immediately repeat for a total of four jumps
Sets/Reps: 5x8 with 60 seconds rest between sets; perform sets 2 through 4 holding light med ball
Resisted Sprints (Top Speed)
This final drill improves top speed by increasing the power you can put into the ground. The more powerful your lower body is, the longer your stride length is and the fewer strides it will take you to get down the basepath.
- Assume starting sprint position
- Twist large bath towel around waist
- Partner stands behind you holding ends of towel
- Sprint forward for 15 yards
- Partner jogs behind you, holding onto towel to provide steady resistance
Sets/Rest: 10-15 with 30 seconds rest
Adam Kessler is a speed coach. He has worked with state championship teams, as well as athletes in different sports, many of whom have competed in the NBA, NFL and overseas. His company, Fitness Planning Consultants, is based in Columbus, Ohio. He is also the founder of howtorunfasternow.com, a website that covers current trends in speed development, plus what professional athletes are doing to make themselves stronger and faster.