Speed and quickness are extremely valuable to a baseball player, whether that’s fielding a groundball infield, chasing down a flyball in the
outfield, or trying to beat the ball to the bag. Some players will be blessed naturally with speed and quickness, but most will have to work hard at it if they want to improve. Here are a few great drills to help those of us that aren’t blessed with natural athletic ability.
Here’s a great plyometric exercise that will help to train those invaluable fast-twitch fibers in your calves and the rust of the muscles of your legs to fire quickly. And that’s the emphasis in this drill: exploding up and moving quickly, staying on the balls of your feet.
With a small box set up in front of the player, have them put one foot up on the box. On your command, they will begin to switch their legs back and forth, alternating their left and right from the ground to the top of the box. After about 10 repetitions of each leg, or 20 steps overall, stop. Take a break, come back and do two more separate sets of 20 for a total of three.
This drill can be done starting from a variety of stances, and it’s good to remember to work on them all. Have the player line up several yards away from you, low in ready stance.
You’ll have a tennis ball in hand, and when you drop it, the player has to sprint and chase it down before it bounces off the ground a second time. This drill is one of my favorites; it does a great job of working on both reaction and hand-eye coordination.
Remember to try starting facing both sides, forwards, and even backwards!
Multiple Box Jumps
Here’s another plyometric exercise. You’ll setup a series of 6-10 boxes, all fairly close to each other and ranging in different sizes. Have your players line up at one end, and then they will begin to jump. Up onto one box, down off, and back up onto the next.
The emphasis again here is to minimize the amount of time on the ground, landing on the balls of your feet, loading for a split second, and exploding back up into the next jump.
Have them run through 3 times each, and wrap it up – we don’t want to overwork their legs.
And for some great information on how to help preserve your player’s bodies by stretching, check out this post on baseball conditioning!