Training your first-step quickness can be pivotal in your speed-training program. When working with his athletes, Allegheny Health Network Director of Sports Performance Frank Velasquez recommends two exercises: “tall, fall, go,” and the tennis ball drill.
TALL, FALL AND GO
You don’t need any equipment for the “tall, fall, go” exercise. Start by standing straight with a clear sprinting lane ahead of you. Next, according to Velasquez, you should get tall and allow gravity to pull you down. Before you fall and hit the ground, you should take your first step to get going. Complete a few repetitions, sprinting for a few yards with each turn.
THE TENNIS BALL DRILL
Your next drill for first-step quickness to improve baseball and softball running speed is the tennis ball drill. The tennis ball drill will require the help of a coach or teammate. Have them stand roughly 3 to 5 yards in front of you with a tennis ball while you get into your start position. Velasquez says that you can either begin from a baserunning stance, as if you’re leading off first base. Or, you can line up in a frontal position, like a wide receiver in football.
To run the tennis ball drill, have your coach or teammate drop the tennis ball from shoulder height. When you see the ball drop, this is your signal to begin your sprint. The goal of the tennis ball drill is to sprint toward the tennis ball to catch it before it bounces twice.
“If it gets too easy,” Velasquez says, “make sure you increase the distance to make it more difficult and challenging for your athlete.”
Follow these Pro Tips and look to build a first step that will turn heads with each sprint.
While first-step quickness is important to any speed-training regimen, don’t forget to take a detailed look at your overall running mechanics as well.