Think about the game of baseball. Now think about when you run during a baseball game. What are you doing?
Most of the time you are either:
- Stealing a base
- Chasing a fly ball
- Charging a grounder
- Running to first base, or
- Maybe even being caught in a rundown and getting out of a pickle
All of these movements require you to have some serious baseball speed. Do you have good baseball speed? Want to get better? Focus on these five movements for each aspect of the game.
1. Stealing A Base
The average amount of time you have to steal a base in the big leagues is 3.25 seconds. Crazy, right? How can a base runner improve his chance of stealing a base? It's all about The Jump!
The Trick? Getting a big jump!
How Can I Get Better? Band Shuffle To Sprint Drill
- Get a partner and a resistance band.
- Shuffle back and forth keeping your toes forward and hips low.
- On your partner's cue, slightly open your hips and sprint against the resistance of the band.
Tip from the pros: Keep your hips and shoulders low. Right before you take off, slide your right foot back a few inches so you can clear your front hip a little easier.
- Lower-body explosiveness
- Great way to develop the jump needed for stealing a base
2. Chasing Down A Fly Ball
It could be the game-winning catch or it might prevent the other team from starting a rally. Catching a fly ball in the outfield is a huge deal. If you can't get to the ball, you can't catch the ball.
The Trick? Proper sprinting form, staying on the balls of your feet while keeping your focus on the ball.
How Can I Get Better? Sled Drag March to Sprint
- Load a sled and grab a harness so you can drag the sled while moving your arms.
- Begin by leaning slightly forward.
- Striking the ground with the balls of your feet, drive your legs in a "marching" motion.
- Bend your hands at 90 degrees and pump your knees past your waist.
- March 10 yards, then sprint for 10 yards.
Tip from the pros: When you hit your heels, your head tends to jar up and down—not good when you are trying to keep your focus on the ball in the air. Stay on the balls of your feet!
- Faster arrival time to the ball and better sprint form.
- Develops the habit of staying off your heels.
- The drag teaches you to drive your foot in the ground hard and makes you keep your knees and stride in a straight line.
3. Charging A Grounder
Getting to a grounder is not the hard part. The hard part is switching your feet into position to fire the ball and get the hitter out.
The Trick? Getting to the ball fast and being able to switch your feet into throwing position with lightning speed.
How Can I Get Better? Boudro Switchfoot Drill
- Line up 4 cones in a straight line 5 yards apart.
- At Cone 1, shuffle back and forth as fast as you can for 10 yards.
- On a partner's cue, sprint to Cone 2.
- As you are sprinting, partner points either right or left.
- Get to the cone and switch your feet as fast as possible in the direction your partner points to.
- Repeat your shuffle drill side to side.
- Continue same pattern to Cones 3 and 4.
- Lateral movement efficiency, footwork, body control, ability to set feet in position to make a good throw.
- When you don't have to think about where your feet are, you can focus on where you have to make the throw.
- Core control is huge for this drill.
4. Running from Home to First Base
Think of Ichiro Suzuki. He would crush opponents by barely hitting the ball. As long as he made contact, there was a good chance he could get a base hit. Was it power with the bat? Nope. It was all about running speed. That dude can fly!
The Trick? Moving from one plane of motion to another quickly and efficiently (i.e., dropping the bat and getting your butt moving to first base!)
How Can I Get Better? Quick Feet Med Ball Slams to Sprint
- Get a med ball in the range of 12-14 pounds.
- Start by moving your feet back and forth as fast you can in an athletic position.
- On partner's cue of "right" or "left," slam the ball outside your lead foot.
- On partner's cue of "right go" or "left go," slam the ball in that direction and take off into a sprint in the opposite direction.
- Footwork skills, full-body power, foot speed, sprint form, first-step quickness.
- Transitioning from one plane of motion to the next.
- The best part is when you slam, turn and sprint, you are learning how to apply more force into the ground, which is huge for getting a good start toward first base.
5. Getting Out of a Pickle
Matt VanSumeren (Head Strength Coach @ Xceleration) is here to show you how to get out of a pickle:
Getting in a pickle is no fun. You made a mistake, and now you have to dig yourself out. With quick feet, you have a better chance of saving your butt. This is true baseball speed.
The Trick? Fast and explosive change of direction, properly aligning your feet.
How Can I Get Better? Transitional Ladder to Cone Drill
- Place 4 0r 5 cones about 5 yards outside a speed ladder
- Move your feet fast back and forth outside the ladder staying in good position, pumping your arms (stay in place).
- When your partner says "switch," drive your outside foot in the ground and cut to the other side of the ladder (move up the ladder).
- When your partner says "sprint," go to the cones outside the ladder, perform a "slash stop" then go back to the ladder.
- Repeat until you complete the ladder.
Tip from the pros: When you hit the cones, slide your feet like you would stop on skates. This will shift your knees and feet in the right position so you can change direction quickly, just like you would when getting out of a pickle!
- Rapid change of direction, lower-body power, injury prevention.
- Ability to change direction fast in a safe position so you can fool the guys who are trying to throw you out.
Facebook: Xceleration Sports LLC
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock