Speed and Agility
As we said in the Strength and Power article:
Throwing a baseball at maximal velocities predominantly involves the ability to generate a large amount of speed-strength. Speed-strength is the ability to produce high amounts of power very quickly, and to train for it, you must train on both ends of the absolute speed / absolute strength continuum.
Today, let’s focus on the absolute speed side of that spectrum.
We know that we need strength to create the necessary power to throw a baseball 90 MPH and swing a bat at high velocities, but we need to be able to tap into that strength quickly. Training solely with the slow lifts – back squat, deadlift, bench press – can benefit the athletes in question, but they should be paired with speed-related work to help them generate the power and athleticism they need to compete on the diamond. We can do this by implementing exercises that cannot be done slowly – power cleans, for example – or by modifying exercises like the back squat and turning them into a speed exercise. Louie Simmons and the Westside Barbell crew popularized this type of training and called it Dynamic Effort (DE) training, but it started with the Soviets far before them.
Here’s a great example of DE training – speed box squats:
We might do these with short rest – perhaps 8 sets of 3 reps with 1-2 minutes rest in between sets at about 40-60% of the athlete’s one-rep maximum (1RM). Another exercise that I linked to in the Strength article were speed deadlifts against bands:
Programming for these might be 10 sets of 2 reps with 1-2 minutes rest at 40-60% of the athlete’s 1RM, again.
Training for maximum broad jump and vertical leap performance also carries over nicely to the diamond, as it helps the athlete to generate more ground reaction force power, which is the very heart of fastball velocity and bat speed – not to mention running speed to swipe bases!
We also implement a lot of metabolic conditioning for our athletes – short interval-based training periods with short rest and high intensity. As we talked about in the Appropriate Energy Systems Development post awhile back:
All efforts in baseball involve short bursts of intense effort – throwing a fastball, swinging a bat, stealing a base, bolting after a line drive hit in the gap, fielding a one-hop sharp grounder, throwing to first base, picking a ball out of the dirt, sprinting to cover home plate… you get the idea.
Weight Sled Push/Pull Sprints