Speed Training for Baseball

I received a lot of feedback and questions regarding my latest article on in-season training for baseball on EliteFTS. Many have asked about how I incorporate speed training for baseball players.

What is speed work?

Speed work is NOT the same as interval sprints or sprints with minimal rest periods. This type of running should be classified as general conditioning. The reason why I call it general conditioning is because sport specific condition must consider the energy systems used in a sport. Baseball is a unique sport that requires maximal intensity sprints with full recovery. On occasional, hitters and base runners will run without full recovery but for the most part they are full rested in-between sprints. With that said, baseball conditioning can be classified as speed work. Baseball is unique because no other sport can classify speed training as conditioning.

Building a foundation

Before you incorporate any speed training into your program, you need to have a foundation of strength. Simply put, if your weak you’re going be slow. Building a foundation is established through increasing physical preparation and mastering basic bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, pushups, hand walking and pull-ups. Overcoming muscular imbalances is also critical to building a solid foundation. Addressing weaknesses should also be a main priority. For 95% of high school and even college athletes, this includes the posterior chain muscles and the upper back. Sled dragging and prowler pushes are one of the best ways to increase work capacity and GPP.

When to start incorporating speed training

When you have a baseball player who has a great foundation of strength, and has good relative body strength, you can start to incorporate speed work. Speed work should be performed BEFORE strength training OR on a separate day, just make sure you do not do it the day before a max effort lower body workout. Your nervous system will be shot and your performance will suffer.

Speed training protocol

When you do speed work be sure to keep the distance under 60 yards. Unless you have a baseball player who needs to improve their 60 yard dash for college or pro recruitment, I’d focus on 10 yard sprints and 30 yard sprints. Also, you need to give your athletes FULL rest and recovery. If they are not fully rested than you are not doing speed work, you are doing conditioning! Keep the total distance for the session around 300 yards or less. An example would be 10 30 yard sprints with 3 minute rest in-between sprints. 3 MINUTE REST?? Yes!! That would achieve FULL RECOVERY!!

Conclusion

Many people believe that a running parachute or other gimmicks will increase speed. When push comes to shove, nothing will outdo all out sprints for short distances and full recovery.  Before you start incorporating speed training into your program, you need to build a solid foundation of strength because weak athletes cannot be fast. Aside from speed training, baseball players can increase their speed by training their running technique. I do not recommend this for young athletes, as they should be focusing on getting stronger and increasing their work capacity.

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Leave A Reply (8 comments so far)

  • Scott

    Joe- Great Post. As a Performance Enhancement Coach myself, Baseball Players I train as well as other athletes want to become faster & more agile. As they say, they are putting the cart before the horse. One must first develop proper strength levels in order to become faster and more explosive. Running is a force development activity and if you are weak, you can not develop the force to be fast.

    Thanks Joe

  • Joe,

    I just sent out a newsletter to my baseball subscribers on this very thing this week. Great points. They need to build more strength to get faster.

    Great minds think alike, I guess!

    Keep up the good work.

    -Jedd-

  • Brian

    How much does genetics play into speed? I have some kids who are not that big and strong but they are really quick. Is it that they have better fast twitch mulcles fibers?

  • Hey Brian,

    I haven’t found any scientific research to back up this answer but I would imagine that genetics do play a large roll in speed. Picture two ends of a spectrum- 1 being absolute strength and the other being absolute speed. If an athlete falls to the absolute strength side, they still can be fast but they would be faster if they actually improved rate of force development instead on developing strength alone. On the other hand, an athlete who falls to the absolute speed side of the spectrum will eventually plateau if they only train for speed. Since they are already faster than they are strong they should focus on improving absolute strength.

    Getting back to genetics, I have seen some athletes run like deer and they are neither strong, big nor explosive so clearly I do think genetics do play a role in speed. When I have some time I will research this some more and come back with some science to back up my answer. Hope this helps!

    All the best,

    Joe

  • Jay Cross

    Our high school baseballs coach has all players run the mile every Monday. I say this is the worst training that could be done. Please Advise,

  • Hey Jay,

    Show him this article:

    http://articles.elitefts.com/articles/sports-training/should-pitchers-run-long-distance/

    Let me know what you think!

  • Pingback: How to Become an Explosive Baseball Player()

  • Great Post, Joe.

    And Jay that is the problem with baseball. I think of all the sports it is the farthest behind in the progression of strength and conditioning. Probably has something to do with ballplayers being the most superstitious athletes. They keep doing things the way the way they’ve always done it…same with coaches.

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