The Truth about Agility Training for Baseball

Agility training for baseball is a very misunderstood concept. Most coaches and players think that by simply using an agility ladder or cone drills that an athlete will become more agile. Most coaches and players also think that by doing “agility” drills, athletes will increase linear speed, however both these arguments aren’t true.

The truth is that in a baseball game no player knows which direction they are going have to move in to track down a fly ball, field a ground ball or block a wild pitch. For this reason I don’t like predetermined ladder or agility drills because they have no carry over to the athletic field. My approach to agility training is very simple and old school. Great agility training for young kids is playing a game like tag. Sounds crazy but look at what is going on during this game. Kids are constantly dodging each other, moving in different directions. They are reacting to an unknown stimulus. Check out this video of Rocky getting in some serious agility training.

Realistically, baseball players should perform their agility training by reacting to a ball. Baseball players can improve their agility and range by doing player position drills. For a catcher there is nothing more dynamic then blocking balls in the dirt or fielding bunts. Middle infielders should work on their footwork on fielding ground balls and double plays.  Outfielders should work on improving their routes to fly balls. Working on these drills at 100% intensity will improve your agility and range.

Like everything in the performance world, the agility ladder has its place. For me, I would use it for my athletes as part of their warm up as a plyometic effect and to maybe get their nervous system going but no more than a couple of minutes. It is also great for young athletes because it will help improve their coordination. As far as cone drills go, unless you are getting tested specifically in the 3 cone drill or other drills of this nature, you are better off reacting to a ball or an unknown stimulus. Sure you will get good at ladder drills and cone drills if you perform them over and over again but let me ask you- how many sports can you name that have predetermined movement patterns?

In addition to actually playing baseball what can you do to improve agility?

The ability to control one’s bodyweight is critical to improving quickness. Like all other physical attributes such as speed, power and explosiveness, agility will increase once an athlete develops a certain level of relative body strength. Once a solid foundation of strength is built, an athlete will be able to handle his or her bodyweight better and thus be able to move in different directions quicker.

How about increasing speed?

The ability to increase the rate of force production will improve speed. In order to increase speed, you need to increase the rate of force production. I have found that there are three ways to increase rate of force production into the ground. The first way is through sprinting. If you want to run fast then sprint!  The second way is through building a strong lower body. This comes through using the max effort method, strengthening the posterior chain and through unilateral leg training. In addition to building strength, athletes need to train explosive strength, or dynamic strength. The most economical way of doing this is through jump training. Improvements in an athlete’s vertical jump will lead to improvements in speed as well because of RATE OF FORCE DEVELOPMENT, NOT BECAUSE OF AN INCREASE IN “QUICK FEET” OR AGILITY.

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  • LeRoy Jenkins

    This is really dumb.