Posts

5 Sprint Drills Designed for Baseball Players

As we begin to enter the off-season for baseball, many players, parents and coaches are searching for sprint drills for baseball players. One of the common areas baseball players want to work on is speed and getting faster.

With college camps and showcases right around the corner, now is a great time to work on your sprint mechanics!

In this article, I will share with you 5 sprint drills designed for baseball players. Make sure you watch the videos for a great demo and how I coach them.

If you are not a subscriber to Esposito Strength Club, make sure you click here to subscribe so you don’t miss out! You will also get access to all of my free online baseball courses!

 

Learn From My Mistakes

I remember the first time when I threw up from “speed drills.” I was 16, and was destroyed. Baseball scouts and coaches told me that I needed to work on my sprint mechanics. Luckily I had my 60 yard times and running times from a Perfect Game showcase.

  • 7.6 second 60 Yard Dash
  • 2.1 second 10 Yard Dash
  • Mile time just under 8 minutes

So, like most of you, my parents signed me up for a “Speed Camp.” I was one of 30 kids to one coach. Some random open field in Southern New Hampshire. This coach was a former athlete with no certifications or any further education. He happened to be at one of our fall ball games promoting his Speed Camp.

 

What Did this Speed Camp Entail?

Day 1. We were outside for an hour. Sprinting. Running laps. Cone drills. More sprints.

I threw up. This speed coach was literally happy I threw up. Like a badge of honor for him.

Every day for 8 weeks, we did the same thing. If I didn’t throw up, the coach would tell me I didn’t work hard enough.

 

The Results?

I don’t remember the exact numbers, but I know I got slower.

My 60 Yard dash time was above an 8.

My 10 yard was slower.

My mile time was close to 9 minutes.

The worst part… The coach put the blame on me! I was 16. I didn’t know and neither did my parents. Looking back at the “program,” we did nothing to work on my sprint mechanics. I was broken down, weaker, and I did not get better. That is some of the dangers when it comes to “speed camps.”

 

You Need to Crush the Basics…

So, what are some sprint drills to do?  Here are 5 of my go to’s when starting off with an athlete:

 

The Wall Lean Piston Iso

Nothing sexy about this drill. It is one of my favorites when it comes to coaching athletes on the proper positions for sprinting. If you can’t get repeat this position on a wall, how can you get to this position at full speed?

Take pride in these important sprint mechanic positions!

Download my Top 10 Game Day Nutrition Tips for Baseball Players Here

The Wall Lean Piston Iso is a great teaching tool to create context for the next sprint drills in this blog. When coaching, I will often regress athletes for a set to remind them about this specific position. This allows the athlete to mentally remember where their positions are.

 

How to Perform The Wall Lean Piston Iso

 

Linear Bounds

Following our wall drill, our next sprint drill for baseball players is Linear Sprint Bounds. This is a great exercise to work on force into the ground, and vertical power when sprinting. There is also the pre-tension anticipation of your next stride, which adds a ground reaction component as well. Think of these as long stride sprints.

You are trying to spend less time on the ground, and creating a rhythmic, yet powerful sequence throughout your running mechanics.

Great for knee flexion and foot placement like we discuss in the Wall Lean Piston Video above.

 

How to Perform Linear Bounds

 

Lean Fall Sprint with Hip Flexion Start

The next sprint drill for baseball players is The Lean Fall Sprint with Hip Flexion continues to build off of our previous videos in this blog. We are constantly working on our sprint positions, especially the knee and foot placement.

Starting off in the exact position we need to get into when hitting the ground is a great way to start off with your lean fall sprint progressions. As a coach, I am able to stop the drill, set positions and reminders, and maintain the integrity of our sprint positions.

Like our videos above, this is great for knee flexion and ground contact time. We like to think of being aggressive with your arms, and pushing force into the ground at contact.

 

How to Perform the Lean Fall Sprint with Hip Flexion Start

 

Linear Pulse to Sprint

So far in our previous sprint drills for baseball players, we have set some constraints with specific starting points and isometrics. In the Linear Pulse Start to Sprint, we begin to add in a bit more pre tension and timing for the athlete.

The pulsing helps create tension throughout the body. I like to think of being on a mini trampoline and pushing the floor away. I also want to point out that my head is not doing a ton of up and down movement. Think of a duck on the water, still and calm above the water, but rapid and engaged below!

Let the athlete get some timing in for the pulsing. You can also allow the athlete to choose when they decide to sprint. As a coach, you can also decide on go calls or audible noises. Whatever fits your training program and goals.

 

How to Perform the Linear Pulse to Sprint

 

10 Yard Build to 30 Yard Sprint

In our 5th sprint drill for baseball players, we are now performing what I call a free run. The free run allows the athlete to put all the drills from above into effect. This takes away some of the “practice steps” involved from the previous sprint drills.

This drill is designed for the athlete to incorporate their sprint mechanics as they build up slow for 10 yards. Once they reach the 10 yards, then accelerate into a close to max effort sprint for the designated distance.

As a coach, you can adjust the build distance as well as the sprint distance. Depending on the athlete and sport, that can be customized for you.

I typically like the 10-yard build for baseball players as it simulates the time or duration of a pitch. If you are a base runner, you have to turn in the jets and run the bases hard. If you are playing defense, you have to sprint to the gap or back up a base!

 

How to Perform the 10 Yard Build to 30 Yard Sprint

 

Putting it All Together

This is a typical set and reps for each of these after a full warmup (not sure what to do for a warmup? Check out My Pre-Game Warm-Up Blog):

  1. Wall Lean Piston Iso – 2-3 Sets of :10 isometric for each leg
  2. Linear Bounds – 2-3 Sets of 10-15 Yards
  3. Lean Fall Run with Hip Flexion – 2-3 Sets of 3 each leg (6 total sprints)
  4. Linear Pulse Start to Sprint – 2-3 sets of 3 each leg (6 total sprints)
  5. 10 Yard Build to 30 Yard Sprint – 1 set of 4 Reps

Remember, in the words of Tim Gabbett, work hard and smart. Just because you threw up, doesn’t make it a good “speed” program!

Visual and Reactive Training for the Baseball Athlete

Baseball is a game of multiple, quick decisions that must be made in a short amount of time. It is also a game that demands great eye-hand coordination and depth perception.

A hitter must spot the pitch, pick up the spin and direction of the ball, and then finally decide to swing or not in a matter of a second!

Not to mention, the hitter surely isn’t thinking about proper hitting mechanics during this time either. I’m sure a live brain scan of a baseball player would light up like a Christmas tree.

We can preach mechanics all we want to hitters, lift as much as we want in the weight room, but does our coaching really matter if our players aren’t reactive?

Reactive and visual training is something that cannot be taken for granted because having these skills are part of being successful in this game.

The purpose of this article is to give coaches and players quick and simple drills to use on the field to enhance visual and reactive skills. Note: for these drills, you’ll need some tennis balls and a good throwing partner!

Turn-Around Toss

In this drill, the player has his back to his partner. The thrower will yell “now” as soon as the ball has been released. During that time, the player must turn around and successfully catch the ball with one hand. For consistency, make sure to turn around on both sides evenly and change the hand that he catches with. Stand approximately 45 feet away from your partner.

Blinded Toss

In this drill, the player is facing his partner with his eyes closed. The thrower will yell “now” as soon as the ball has been released. During that time, the player must open his eyes and successfully catch the ball with one hand. For consistency, make sure to change the hand that he catches with. Stand approximately 45 feet away from your partner.

Eyes-Down Toss

In this drill, the player is facing his partner as if he will be fielding a ground ball in an athletic stance. However, the player’s eyes are down. The thrower will yell “now” as soon as the ball has been released. During that time, the player must pop up and successfully catch the ball with one hand. For consistency, make sure to change the hand that he catches with. Stand approximately 45 feet away from your partner.

Lateral Toss

In this drill, the player has one shoulder facing his partner with his eyes facing down. The thrower will yell “now” as soon as the ball has been released. During that time, the player must look up and successfully catch the ball with the hand that is furthest away from his partner. For consistency, make sure to face both ways evenly. Stand approximately 45 feet away from your partner.

Push-Up Toss

In this drill, the player is in a push-up position facing his partner with his eyes down. The thrower will yell “now” as soon as the ball has been released. During that time, the player must pop up and successfully catch the ball with one hand. For consistency, make sure to change the hand that he catches with. Stand approximately 45 feet away from your partner.

Start with performing each drill 10 times.  To make any of these drills more challenging, you can manipulate a few variables:

  • Partner distance
  • Ball velocity
  • Ball trajectory
  • Time between ball release and “now” call

Not only are they great for the hitter in being able to pick up the flight path of the ball, but they work just as well for the defender.

On the other side of the plate, we should always assume that a ball will be hit our way, but we still need to be able to react from a stationary or non-stationary position.

These drills are effective because they allow the player to tap into the stretch-shortening plyometric cycle, which is needed in power development and reactive ability.

Performing any sort of visual and reactive training two to three times a week during the season can keep your players mentally, and athletically, sharp.