Being a well-rounded runner is crucial on the diamond, so you need to master first-step quickness, acceleration and the ability to reach top speed. Steven Orris, University of Florida baseball strength and conditioning coach, drops a few drills that help his players move faster than the rest. Drawing from the philosophy he employed with the 2005 national runner-up Gators, Orris addresses every component of speed on the diamond with this routine. With a warm-up and cool-down, perform the following drills once a week on your sprint and conditioning day.
Elevated Quick Step
• Stand in front of three-inch step
• Step up with left foot, then right; step down with left foot then right
• Repeat pattern as quickly as possible for specified time; maintain proper running form with arms
• Rest and repeat with right foot leading
Variations: Perform drill laterally and diagonally
Advanced: Use six-inch step
Sets/Duration/Rest: 5×10 seconds/rest for 30 seconds
Benefits: Preps your neuromuscular system for making quick moves and works your fast twitch muscles. The lateral variation is great for getting out of the box.
Med Ball Throw and Acceleration
• Stand at goal line on football field holding 10-pound med ball at chest level
• Squat down and explode up and out to throw med ball as far as possible
• Immediately explode into sprint toward ball
• Quickly pick up ball and throw again
• Perform pattern continuously down length of field
Variation: Perform drill as a race against teammate down the field
Sets/Distance/Rest: 5×100 yards/rest for 30 seconds
Benefits: You work acceleration by taking off after the ball and get plyometric work from the throw.
• In continuous fashion, explosively bound off one leg to other over specified distance
• With each bound, cover as much ground as possible and achieve maximum hang time
Advanced: Bound for 20 yards, then explode into sprint for 10 yards
Sets/Distance/Rest: 5-8×20 yards/rest for 30 seconds
Benefits: This horizontal plyometric preloads your muscles the same way a top-speed sprint does.