Speed and Agility Training: Is It Really Needed in Baseball?
Baseball may look like a very simple game to play—you hit the ball, run to the bases, and tag home plate. If you’re playing defense, all you need is to catch the ball and throw it to the base players. Simple, isn’t it?
The Uniqueness of Baseball
Although batting accuracy plays the biggest part in winning a baseball game, there are other factors that actually contribute to a perfect game. Pitching, throwing the ball, and catching are the most basic, but there is so much more happening in the field.
Imagine an outfielder running after a ground ball, then making a sudden stop to throw the ball to the catcher to prevent the opposing player to score a point. All of these must come in one continuous motion—not an easy feat if you don’t have the proper baseball speed and agility training.
Baseball Speed Drills
The one of the simplest baseball speed workouts to practice is sprinting from home plate to first base (or from one base to another). Ten repetitions of this exercise will help develop the ability to cover a short distance in an equally short period of time. This ability is crucial when you want to steal bases or when you want to reach second or third base after the ball is hit.
Repetition of the exercise also conditions the calf and muscle legs for the demanding work. It is important to time each run to determine a baseline and to develop additional baseball speed drills for improvement. Running in sequence also helps a player strengthen his stamina.
A variation of the baseball speed and agility training using the bases is the base path run. The objective is run the course of the whole diamond at the fastest speed the player can muster. To add more challenge, the player must touch each base with his hand and using it as a pivot to direct his way to the next base.
There are other baseball speed and agility training that are designed for specific purposes like stealing bases, returning to first base after a pick-off attempt, or sprints to reach a base during game situations such as catcher dropping the ball.
Another set of speed and agility drills for baseball are plyometric exercises. These activities include different kinds of jumping exercises like squat, lateral, and broad jumps, plus squat jacks and jumping lunges. The goal behind these baseball speed drills is to condition the muscles of the legs to exert maximum effort in a short period of time.
Using a variety of baseball speed and agility equipment provides more challenge to the training routine of baseball players. It can also condition their mind to react swiftly and instinctively. There are also baseball speed and agility training that focus on developing better field awareness on the run. Being fully aware of what’s happening in the field helps a player make game-deciding plays when needed.
Speed in baseball is more evident when players run or steal bases as the spectators’ attention is often focused on the diamond. However, crucial plays also happen in the outfield. The timely reaction of the outfielders will help determine the outcome of the game. In a tense and equally contested game, the team that takes its baseball speed and agility drills to heart will more likely win the game.