When people think of the sport of baseball, they commonly assume a normal day of training should consist of your basic batting, pitching and fielding drills. However, a major area of the sport is more than likely left out of most practices and training sessions. This area is “base running,” and as simple as it sounds it can be an area of frequent mistakes that can lead to a crucial “out” or prevent an additional base from being gained.
Unlike most track and field athletes, the importance does not lie within practicing the 2 and 3-point starts, which are never utilized in real game situations for Baseball. The area of primary significance is the biomechanics of the individual’s sprint technique. A tremendous amount of speed and explosiveness is lost when a player is not optimizing his running technique for maximal force production.
The three most common errors found within linear sprint technique are as follows:
1. The player brings the chest and head up too early within the sprint.
2. The player does not keep their arms and legs moving directly forwards and backward in a linear fashion.
3. The arms and legs, especially the arms, are not contracted in a forceful, almost violent manner, to maximize their force producing capabilities.
With the first error, the head and chest need to be angled forward at around 45° – 60° during the first 60 – 70 meters, also know as the acceleration phase. The player should begin to become more upright during the maximum velocity phase or after 60 -70 meters.
Because maximum velocity is not reached before 90 feet, the player must be angled forward throughout the distance from home plate to first base. This angle allows the player to act similarly to a piston, driving their legs and pushing their center of gravity forward for maximal acceleration.
The second error is a very common mistake for all athletes. The body is carrying out massive amounts of work during a sprint, and by having the arms and legs come across the body instead of straight ahead, the result is a lot of wasted energy. It also produces force in other directions that are not advantageous for linear speed, ultimately slowing down the player. So it’s a priority for any runner to have their elbows at 90°, making short, explosive arm movements that move directly backward and forwards.
The third error is the main reason why any and all sports should partake in resistance training. It is tough for an untrained individual to maximally recruit or fire their musculature without providing some progressive overload, commonly found within weight training. An athlete can attempt to run as fast as they possibly can, but without the neuromuscular benefits obtained from overloading the muscle, they are simply working below their maximum potential. Resistance training not only allows for a greater amount of the muscle to be activated and recruited in a shorter period, but it also allows you to maximize the stimulation of the muscle recruited within that period. So by participating in a resistance training program, similar to the ones designed at Tidewater Performance, an athlete can have greater control over their ability to produce quick, forceful arm and leg movements that result in improved base running performance.
Carr, James. “Acceleration Triumphs for Baseball and Softball Athletes.” Elite FTS. Elite FTS, 14 Aug. 2015. Web. 16 Sept. 2016.