Say “pitcher” and “speed” in the same sentence, and most will assume you’re talking about a fastball, not a 40 time.
Mike Nagler, UC Irvine baseball’s S+C coach, works hard to change that, as much of his work with the team’s hurlers emphasizes foot speed. Here are some points about speed you might want to note if you play on the mound, courtesy of Nagler.
1. Pitchers need to get off the mound fast to back up throws to first, to cover the bag when a first baseman needs to make a play and to field bunts
2. Speed training [improves] a pitcher’s [ability] to get into a fielding position or sprint.
3. We really focus on the [first] step during training, because that’s when pitchers can acquire an extra second [the difference between safe and out]. This first step…is crucial also, because after [that], the movement turns more into getting into a fielding position or sprinting.
4. We use line hops and box jumps to enhance a pitcher’s footwork. When performing these drills for speed, it’s vital not to hop. Focus on lower body speed and quick feet, as opposed to big bouncing, which will ultimately slow an athlete down.
5. Perform speed drills year round. If you limit drills to a specific season, then it will be forgotten in a couple weeks, and regression [will occur] to a point where improvement disappears.