How to Build First-Step Quickness for Baseball and Softball

Body control, correct technique and proper intensity are the three keys to gaining softball and baseball speed.

If softball or baseball players want to improve their speed, they must focus on their first step. For an infielder or an outfielder, that first step can be the difference between making a play or giving up an extra-base hit. The exercises below will enable the athlete to gain sport-specific speed. Body control, technique and proper intensity for the athlete are the three keys to gaining softball and baseball speed.

  • Supine Start and Prone Start begin with the athlete lying on his or her back or stomach. The coach starts the athlete with a verbal command.
  • The 5-10-5 Drill works on first step and lateral movement.
  • Shuffle Sprint simulates a softball or baseball player gaining his or her secondary lead and then reading a ball in the dirt or a delayed steal.
  • The Rock Sprint is an option used for softball base running. It is a movement that is reciprocated by corner infielder on a bunt play or an outfielder reading the ball on a line drive. 
  • Drop Step Left Sprint and Drop Step Right Sprint work the skills necessary to catch a fly ball hit over the head of a defensive player.
  • The 4-Cone Drill works on lateral, backward and forward movement. For this drill, the athlete should set time goals.
  • The Figure 8 Drill assists with softball and baseball speed by strengthening the body for making turns around the bases. We have two  athletes do this drill at the same time. The second athlete chases the first athlete around the cones. The athletes should be similar in speed to make it fun.

All of these exercises can be done on the same day. The age and ability of the athlete will determine the sets and repetitions. Coaches remember that in order to gain softball and baseball speed the athlete will need to rest between these exercises to ensure they are training at high intensity. The stopwatch as well as knowledge of your athletes' limits will enable you to push, but not over-train, your players.

Supine Start

Prone Start


Shuffle Sprint (Secondary Lead / Delayed Steal)

Rock Sprint

Drop Step Left Sprint

Drop Step Right Sprint

4-Cone Drill

Figure 8

Check out more baseball and softball drills:

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