Linear Run and Stick
Here we want to work on our balance and body control for change of direction. Start with linear runs by sticking and holding your landing with each leg. Come out, stick and hold with the right. Go back, stick and hold with the left.
This helps the athletes understand how to stop their body, get it under control. You’ve got to have control of the body before you can change direction and be explosive.
Now let’s go right into a linear run into a backpedal. Push away from the direction you want to go. Run forward, plant, explode straight back. Balance by using each leg equally.
Jog backwards, stick and hold your landing. Stop the body from going one direction. Balance out and use both feet equally. Come down with the right, then the left. Switch. Backpedal, stick and stop your landing. Get the body under control. Switch. Use the other leg.
Now let’s go right from the backpedal, plant the foot, and break forward into a sprint. Teach the body how you want it to stop and respond.
Now let’s go to a lateral slide. Start with stick, and hold the landing. Slide across, stick and hold. Stop your momentum from going one direction so we can change and get it to go the other.
Now let’s go right into straight lateral slide with change of direction going side to side. Down and back is one repetition. Do three sets of three repetitions.
Three-Yard Star Drill
This is a basic drill using some cones. Make them three yards apart.
You’re going to start with a sprint forward, then go lateral side to side, and finish with a backpedal. Stay on the front part of the foot. Push away from the direction you want to go. Push forward, push side to side, push back. This is just simple quickness, pushing away with quick feet, pushing the hips, keep the core solid.
The X Drill
With this drill, we’re again using the cones that you set up for the Three-Yard Star youth baseball drill.
Start in a good athletic position right in the center. You can start forward or back, it doesn’t matter. You’re opening up your hips now as you go through the motions. Open that hip and step forward. Open and drop back. This is great for opening up the hips for your athletic multi-directional speed and agility. You’ve got to stay on the ball of your foot, pushing away from the direction you want to go. Develop that all-around skill, multipurpose direction.
Start from a good athletic position. Explode using the knee and the hip to move the feet. Stay in your power position as much as possible. Your feet will always follow your knees and hips.
Now let’s go from a crossover to an explosive sprint. Drive that knee and hip quick across, bust into an acceleration sprint. Cross and go quickly. Use those hips to get your feet in position to put force into the ground for greater acceleration and speed. This is the general athletic skill that’ll transfer to better base running and defensive skill.
Jump Rope Drill
This is great for teaching the quickness and athleticism that we need.
Start with two foot jumps. Pull the toes up toward the shins and spring off the ground. Don’t stab the ground with the toes. Keep the core tight and stable. Suck in the belly button and tuck in the back.
Next, do one foot hops. These are unmatched for developing balance in each side of the body. Agility, balance, power, everything we need for athleticism is in this drill.
Now let’s go to a running rhythm as we jump rope. Pull the knee up, heel up, toe up as you run in place. Get the synchronization of the arms and the feet to work together. Pull that knee up, heel up, and toe up as you step down to the ground with greater force and power.
Now let’s challenge the neuromuscular system. We’re going to do skipping. This forces the rhythmic action of the arms and the legs to work together. It sends messages from the brain to the muscles at a faster rate of speed. This is super for teaching quickness. You have to step down to the ground with the toe pulled up toward the shin. This keeps the ankle cocked and loaded, ready to explode off the ground.
Now let’s increase the speed. Let’s go back to our two foot jumps and let’s add fast feet. Pop off the ground as quick as you can.
Now do single-leg hops as fast you can go. Pull that toe up and bounce as fast as you can. Balance up by using each leg equal number of repetitions.
Now let’s add the speed to our run. We want to get a more rhythmic, faster rhythm as we run jumping rope. This teaches the arms and the legs to work together.
Now let’s go to skipping. Get the rhythm, then increase the speed. The rhythmic action of the arms and legs working together is great for developing better quickness and power to the ground.
Here we want to use our same big agility motions, but now we’re going to take those athletic skills and make them quicker. Turn on the speed.
Start with straight-ahead skips. Pop off the front of the foot quickly. Step down to the ground. That’s where force is applied. Skip, bouncing off the front part of the foot. Pop off the ground. Relax at the hips. Keep a stable core. Those are two key elements that you have to have for quickness.
Now let’s go straight lateral, moving sideways. Get your skipping rhythm. Now step down to the ground and push away from the direction you want to go. To move to the left, I have to push to the right. To move right, push left. Keep those toes pulled up. Keep that skipping rhythm. This one’ll challenge your brain and your muscles to work together.
Now let’s use the knee and the hip with our crossover action. The faster you move your hips, the faster your feet are going to go. Hips, they’ve got to rotate quick. Bring the knee across.
The feet will always follow those hips.
Now let’s go backward, rotating the knees out. Step down to the ground. Use your hips for greater speed. Keep the toes pulled up toward the shin and step down to the ground. Keep a solid core. Push away, push away, push away. That’s where quickness comes from.
It’s important for youth baseball coaches to work with their players on improving speed, agility, body control, and balance. Do you think you’ll try out any of these youth baseball drills? Why or why not? Sound off below!