Speed and Agility Drills With Baylor Baseball

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The 2005 Baylor University baseball team was made up of gamers-straight up gamers.

The Bears feasted on the cream of the competitive crop, going 9-3 against nationally-ranked top-10 teams. Four times, Baylor took the field against a team ranked Number One, and four times the Bears responded with a win.

Baylor ballers rose to almost every occasion. Their toughness earned them a share of the Big-12 title, a semifinal appearance in the College World Series and a number four national ranking—highest in Baylor history.

So how did the Bears learn to step it up for big game competition? According to Baylor's head strength and conditioning coach, "Big John" Williams, the team's power stemmed from the pillars of their strength and conditioning program. "Our program is based on strength, sacrifice, honor and faith. You can develop these things during your training and take them to your game," Williams says. "Baseball exemplifies these characteristics."

Williams says that relying on these principles and applying their training to their game led Baylor to their first College World Series showing in 20 years. "These pillars brought them together as a team and built their confidence to become one of the best teams in school history."

According to Shaun McPherson, Baylor's strength and conditioning coach for baseball, mental fortitude is not the only quality that helped the team succeed; overall athletic improvements also contributed. "As a strength and conditioning department, we strive to make the baseball team better athletes and assist them in maximizing their athletic performance," McPherson says. "We achieved that goal."

To improve athleticism and develop speed and explosion, McPherson implemented a four-day-a-week program, including one day each of metabolic sprinting, agility drills, plyometrics with sprints and plyometrics. Although effective for all field positions, McPherson places special emphasis on this program for pitchers.

DAY 1
METABOLIC SPRINTING

WHAT TO DO: "During metabolic sprinting days, we do a multitude of sprints at very short distances and use a set recovery time. The recovery between sprints is calculated to match the time between pitches, which includes the wind up, throw, the catcher receiving the pitch and the throw back to the pitcher."

10-, 20-, 30-yard Sprints

• Begin all sprints out of straddle stance position

• Run linear sprints of 10, 20, and 30 yards

• Rest 35-40 seconds between sprints

• Run 6-8 sprints for each distance

• Add 1-2 sprints each week

• Never run more than 14 sprints per distance

COACHING POINT: Never run a sprint longer than 30 yards on a metabolic sprinting day. Greater distances don't apply to baseball.

DAY 2
AGILITY

WHAT TO DO: "We do the 5-10-5 and some short shuttles on this day—short, fast and explosive drills that work the athlete in multiple directions. Baseball is an explosive sport that requires a lot of change of direction."

Pro Agility (baseball specific)

• Set up three cones five yards apart

• Start at middle cone in two-point stance

• Open hips and move right or left toward cone

• Pivot and turn as though fielding a ball backhanded at cone

• Touch cone with glove hand, plant

• Sprint 10 yards in opposite direction to far cone

• Touch cone with glove hand, plant

• Sprint through middle cone

• Repeat 3-4 times with 20-30 seconds rest

BENEFITS: The baseball adaptation forces you to work a little more flexibility and range of motion, and keeps your mind focused on baseball so you benefit more from the drill.

Short Shuffle Shuttles

• Set up two cones 10 yards apart

• Shuffle between cones 10 times

• Stay low and drive hard

• Complete shuttle in 24-26 seconds

• Rest 45-90 seconds, repeat once

BENEFITS: This drill is explosive in nature; it's a short distance, and it forces you to push off your drive leg for 10 passes through the cones. You push off your drive leg every time you wind up and throw. It also works strength and stability of the groin and hip, which is helpful in preventing injury.

DAY 3
PLYOMETRICS WITH SPRINTS

WHAT TO DO: "We do sprints with a plyometric movement involved—typically a movement like a medicine ball throw or a jump followed by a sprint."

Medicine Ball Rotational Throw to Sprint

• Start in quarter-squat position

• Hold eight- to 12-pound medicine ball at chest level

• Rotate torso and hips, swing ball to one side

• Rotate 180 degrees in opposite direction

• Throw medicine ball laterally

• Sprint after ball for 20 yards

• Repeat 4-6 times

COACHING POINT: Rotate only the torso and hips, keeping the feet square. After you throw the ball, the objective is to catch up to it as fast as possible.

BENEFITS: You work rotational strength and explosive action through the rotational movement. This differs from the anaerobic threshold or conditioning component of the metabolic sprints.

Squat Jump Pass to Sprint

• Dip hips to quarter-squat position

• Hold eight- to 12-pound medicine ball at chest level

• Jump out at 45-degree angle

• Throw medicine ball

• Land and sprint 20 yards

• Repeat 4-6 times

BENEFITS: This drill forces you to work in multiple planes, which involves the whole body as much as possible. It works core, abdominal and back strength, plus overall explosiveness.

DAY 4
PLYOMETRICS

WHAT TO DO: "We do a lot of plyometric jumps—for another day of strengthening and explosiveness. We stress strengthening and explosiveness, because pitchers do a lot of repeated explosive action when they deliver." Perform these jumps in a circuit. Complete the reps for each exercise, rest, then move on to the next movement. Perform the circuit for 2 complete sets.

COACHING POINT: Rest for 45 seconds to a minute for full recovery. When you're able to hold a conversation, you know you're ready to start the next movement.

BENEFITS: Performing these movements in a circuit improves a pitcher's muscular endurance. A starting pitcher at the collegiate level throws anywhere from 70 to 120 pitches in a game. Muscular endurance will make that explosive action repeatable and help the pitcher maintain or increase velocity in the sixth and seventh innings.

Quarter-Squat Jump

• Stand with feet hip-width apart

• Dip hips to quarter-squat position

• Explode up and jump for max height

• Repeat 10 times

Parallel-Squat Jump

• Stand with feet hip-width apart

• Dip hips to parallel-squat position

• Explode up and jump for max height

• Repeat 6 times

Split Jump

• Start with feet split in lunge position

• Dip hips until back knee nearly touches ground

• Explode up and jump for max height

• Land with feet in same front to back position

• Repeat 3 times for each leg

Rocket Jump

• Stand with feet hip-width apart

• Extend arms straight above ahead

• Dip hips to quarter-squat position

• Explode up and jump for max height

• Repeat 6 times

Lateral Bound

• Stand on right leg

• Dip hips to quarter-squat position

• Explode laterally and jump to left

• Land on left leg

• Repeat motion back to right

• Repeat 3 times for each leg


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: BASEBALL | SPEED DRILLS | AGILITY TRAINING | COACH | SPRINT | THROW | PITCHER | DRILL | STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING | STANCE | CONES | MEDICINE BALL | METABOLIC