Your agility and foot speed work are important components to your baseball or softball training program. You need to train for fast-paced movements to help you be quick and aggressive on the diamond. Frank Velasquez, director of sports performance for Allegheny Health Network, has two workout groups for better footspeed: the 6-inch box routine and agility ladder work.
SIX-INCH BOX ROUTINE
To begin your 6-inch box workouts, Velasquez says to start with an up-up, down-down step pattern on your box. Your steps should be quick, yet under control. Remember to pump your arms as you work through the exercise. “We’ll probably do about 10 reps leading with the right and then go ahead and lead with the left,” Velasquez explains.
Following your forward-facing up-downs, you can move into your lateral box workout. With the 6-inch box to your side, take one lateral step onto the box and tap with your other foot. Your next two steps will be as you exit over the box to the other side. Your foot pattern should go: on-on, off-off. Repeat this rhythm back to your starting position for one completed rep. Velasquez suggests completing five repetitions before advancing to the final box exercise for improved foot speed and agility.
“We’ll finish up with a low-level plyometric,” Velasquez says. “We call these ‘foot taps,’ ‘Alis’ or ‘switches.’” For this movement, begin with one foot resting on the box and the other on the ground. With a quick hop and switch, tap the 6-inch box with your back foot and then hop again to tap with the other. This fast-paced drill should be done as quickly as comfortably possible. This completes your 6-inch box exercise group and you can move on to your agility ladder set.
AGILITY LADDER DRILLS
Your agility ladder exercises start with a simple sprint, placing one foot in each rung. Perform this motion down and back before moving on to your lateral steps.
To perform your lateral steps, side-step your way through the agility ladder in a one foot in, one foot out rhythm. You should always have one foot in a rung. Again, perform this movement down-and-back before progressing.
Next will be your “Icky Shuffle,” also referred to as a ski-slalom drill. To perform this drill, step laterally into the first ladder rung and follow with your back foot. Next, take your lead foot and step outside of the ladder. Your back foot, still in the first ladder rung, will then move up to the next rung. Bring your outside foot in again to meet it. Repeat this pattern, alternating your lead foot. For example, if your first step into the ladder was made with your right foot, your feet would go:
- Right in. Left in.
- Right out. Left up.
- Right in. Left out.
- Right up. Left in.
Your next agility ladder drill will be in-in, out-out. Facing one side of the ladder, lead with your closest foot by stepping into the rung, followed by your back foot. Next, take your first step out with your lead foot and again follow with your back foot. Repeat this pattern down and back.
Following in-in, out-out, perform a two-out, two-in hopscotch movement. Beginning at one end of the ladder, take a quick hop and land with both feet in the first rung. Follow your landing with another quick hop and place your feet outside of the next rung. Repeat this in-and-out pattern for another down-and-back set.
The next agility ladder drill will be your hip swivels. Standing at the side of the ladder, stagger your footing so that one foot is inside the first rung. Hop and swing your hips so that your back foot lands in the first rung, becoming your front. Again, hop and swing, having your back foot land this time in the second rung. The goal is to have both feet hit each rung before moving down the ladder. “You notice it’s not a step,” Velasquez says. “It’s a small hop, lot of hip rotation. So we’re getting the hips involved and the core involved.”
Follow your hip swivels with another hopscotch movement. This exercise will be more of a traditional hopscotch foot pattern, however. Velasquez states to go one in, two out with your foot pattern. Be sure to alternate which foot is inside the ladder to promote coordination.
Your final agility ladder exercise for your foot-speed training routine will be one-legged stability hops. Standing on one foot, take a small hop into the first ladder rung, remaining balanced and stable. With your next hop to the second rung, rotate your body 90 degrees, repeating this rotation with each hop. Velasquez notes that you can go as slow as you need to for this exercise. “It’s not for speed; it’s for foot-ankle stability, body control.”
Foot speed and agility drills can be quality additions to your baseball and softball training program. You can complement these exercises with other strength training additions, such as various total-body exercises or anaerobic exercises. Follow these Pro Tips and put your best foot forward with your training this season.