Baseball Speed...What is it?
First, in my opinion, let me tell you what it shouldn't be. It shouldnt be testing for the 60 yard dash -because a ball player will rarely sprint 60 yards (54.9m) in a straight line during game situations. However, I dont see things changing anytime soon so "The 60" will continue to be baseball's scouting standard to evaluate speed. But what about testing for speed that could actually mean something. Speed that translates to the field - speed that I refer to as functional speed. I break it down into two categories:
1) Functional 60 yard speed:
The traditional, linear 60 yard sprint will only predict what you might be able to do in game situations. Whereas "The Functional 60" test such as home-to-second, first-to-third, or even second-to-home can provide speed times for real baseball situations. AND lets not forget the non-tangables such as getting good jumps/reads on base hits, and recognition of defense all can influence the ability to take that extra base.
2) Functional 30 yard speed:
Top baseball speed is achieved around 30m-40m; and since the distance between bases is 27.4m (30 yards) it would be difficult for a player to reach top speed between bases (unless rounding one base to advance to the next). That being said, I still believe that a 30 yard sprint test, such as home-to-first represents game speed better than the 60 yard sprint. However, the 30 yard sprint test such as first-to-second or second-to-third may not make as much sense because of lead-offs & sliding zones reducing the 30 yard distance between bases.
There's no doubt that speed - offensively & defensively - is an asset. But it's much more than just running fast. Reaction, 1st step quickness, acceleration, deceleration under control and agility (ability to start, stop & change of direction) are pivotal to game speed. And when combined with the athlete's knowledge of different game situations and the ability to "READ" those situations you can overcome any lack of raw speed. So you may not be the fastest guy on the team, but you can train to be the smartest and quickest. And above all, run hard all the time. You may get into a hitting slump, or even a throwing slump but there's never an excuse to be in a running slump.
So when it comes to baseball speed, becoming a student of the game and practicing for various game situations cannot be overlooked. All the while your strength & conditioining program should include, but limited to, 1 leg exercises, resisted & assisted sprints, truck/sled pushes, jumping rope, variety of jumps/hops.
Out train the game...and run hard.
- Five Tool Baseball Performance Training (FTBPT) is dedicated to sharing its knowledge, ideas and opinions on baseball performance training based upon field tested experiences as player, coach and baseball strength & conditioning coach. Proper exercise technique ( to ensure effective & efficient training programs) and baseball related movement patterns are implemented to maximize on-field performance. Emphasis is placed on movement based training which integrates multiple muscle groups. This approach has a greater transfer to on-field performance and can minimize the incidence and risk of injury. If a game is being played you can be sure Im watching it from home or from the stands. Many of my own workouts involve designing/creating out-of-the-box exercises & programs to enhance performance and movement unique to baseball