Agility drills with Oregon State baseball

Having trouble in the field or legging out an infield hit?

These Beaver-tested agility drills will improve your range on the diamond and speed out of the batter's box.

By: Chad Zimmerman

From nailing the pro agility drill in practice to using it in a game. From getting out of the batter's box to blazing down the baseline. From snagging a grounder to turning a double play. From running down a line drive to making the throw home. Everything in baseball is about a smooth transition.

The smoother and quicker the transition, the better the performance.

With Andy Dendas' help, Oregon State's baseball team smoothly transitioned from fi nishing in the middle of the PAC-10 with a 31-22 record in 2004, to becoming its champ in 2005 with an outstanding record of 41-8.

According to Dendas, Oregon State's baseball strength and conditioning coach, after the '04 season the team made a serious commitment to improve athletically. Team members put dedicated, consistent time into the entire strength and conditioning program, using weights to strength train, jump ropes and speed ladders to increase quickness and plyometrics to build power and explosion.

"We try to transition our weight and plyometric work into strength, power and quickness on the field," Dendas says. "And agility work is the key component that transitions them to baseball."

Dendas highlights four drills the Beavers use to transform their sharper-trained athleticism into better baseball performance.

Drill: Pro Agility

  • Start in a 2-point stance straddling the starting line
  • Open to your right or left; sprint 5 yards; touch the line with your hand
  • Turn and sprint 10 yards and touch the line with your hand
  • Turn and sprint 5 yards through the finish line

Days a week: 2 / Reps: 2-4 / Rest: 1-1.5 minutes

Variations: Scramble starts (start on your stomach, back, etc.); use a different skill in each leg of the drill (shuffle, backpedal, carioca, etc.); increase distance to a 7-14-7.

Seasonal Transitions:

  • During fall ball, use the 7-14-7 and rest 1-1.5 mintues
  • During January ball, use the 5-10-5 and rest 40-45 seconds

Benefits: The Pro Agility helps infielders work on dropping their center of gravity when fielding ground balls. Pitchers and catchers work on quickness for fielding bunts. All players work on the transition from the batter's box to the sprint to first.

Key Point: Make sure direction changes are quick and clean.

Coaching Point: "Palm the line to work on really dropping your center of gravity. This is especially helpful for infielders working to get low for ground balls."

Drill: 4-Corner

  • Start with four cones in a square pattern, each 5-7 yards apart
  • Begin on the right side of cone 1 and sprint to cone 2
  • Stay to the outside of the cone and sprint to cone 3
  • Sprint around the outside of cone 3 to cone 4
  • Stay to the outside of cone 4 and sprint to the finish line

Days per week: 2 / Reps: 2-4 / Rest: 1-1.5 minutes

Variations: Scramble starts (start on your stomach, back, etc.); use a different skill in each leg of the drill (shuffle, backpedal, carioca, etc.); change the distance of the cones; change your running direction and cut.

Seasonal Transitions:

  • During fall ball, just sprint around the cones in a square; work up to different patterns and rest 1-1.5 minutes
  • During January ball, use more complex patterns and rest 40-45 seconds

Benefit: The 4-Corner Drill is key because of the variations and progression you can have with it.

Key Points: Quick, clean change of direction; drop your hips when cutting around cones

Drill: Agility Wheel

  • Set up 9 cones in a circle, each cone 5-7 yards apart (see sketch)
  • Stand in the center of the circle at cone 9
  • On command, sprint to cone 1, then back-pedal back to the center
  • Sprint to cone 2 and sprint back to the center
  • Shuffle to cone 3 and shuffle back to the center
  • Sprint to cone 4 and sprint back to the center
  • Backpedal to cone 5 and sprint back to the center
  • Sprint to cone 6 and sprint back to the center
  • Shuffle to cone 7 and shuffle back to the center
  • Sprint to cone 8 and sprint through the center

Days per week: 2 / Reps: 2-4 / Rest: 1-1.5 minutes

Variations: Change distance of cones; change skills performed in each leg of the drill

Seasonal Transitions:

  • During fall ball, use Agility Wheel in place of Star Drill (below)
  • During January ball, use Star Drill in place of Agility Wheel

Benefits: "The Agility Wheel is good in the fall, because it's longer than the Star Drill," Dendas says. "It builds leg endurance, and it also has a big cognitive factor to it. The players have to know where they're going and what they're doing for each cone."

Key Points: Focus on quick first step, smooth transitions from different athletic movements and quick, clean direction changes.

Drill: Star

  • Set up 6-8 cones in a half-star pattern 5-7 yards apart (see sketch)
  • Start in an athletic position at cone 1
  • On command, sprint to cone 2; touch the cone with your hand; sprint back to cone 1
  • Sprint to cone 3; touch the cone with your hand; sprint back to 3
  • Continue until you have touched every cone

Days per week: 2 / Reps: 2-4 / Rest: 1-1.5 minutes

Variations: Change number of cones; change distance between cones; change the order of cones; use scramble starts; use different skills in each leg of the drill

Seasonal Transitions: Same as Agility Wheel.

Benefits: The Star Drill is better in January ball because movements are faster than the Agility Wheel. The cones are close, so you move through the drill quickly.

Key Point: Focus on quick first step and change of direction.

Topics: BASEBALL | AGILITY TRAINING | CLEAN | SPRINT | DRILL | STANCE | CONES | SHUFFLE