Utilizing Overload Training For Greater Muscle Activation
Developing speed and agility takes many different kinds of training which utilize different unique features of the body. For example, when utilizing overspeed training athletes are attempting to force their body to adapt to taking more steps in a shorter period of time. Although overspeed training increases the speed at which the muscles are able to fire it also forces the brain and nervous system to adapt to the new and outside stimuli being placed on it.
When utilizing overspeed training in baseball agility drills athletes are attempting to force the body to do something it is not used to doing, then forcing the muscles and brain to adapt to that new stimuli. When an athlete utilizes a harness or parachute during sprint training, or baseball agility drills, the added resistance forces more muscle activation in the desired region of the body. This increased load placed on the body allows for a greater storage of energy during the stretch shortening cycle and therefore a more powerful and explosive release of energy when sprinting is performed unresisted. This release of energy allows the entire body to be propelled farther, increasing the distance which can be covered each time the foot comes into contact with the ground.
By incorporating the Reactive Stretch Cord into this baseball agility drill athletes are able to take advantage of overspeed training to enhance the effect the overload training will have on the body. This unique baseball agility drill helps keep the activity sports specific by sending the athlete performing the drill moving quickly and constantly in changing directions.
How Eccentric Movements Develop Speed and Agility
During every strength exercise there are two movements which are performed, concentric motion and eccentric motion. An excellent example of eccentric and concentric motion can be observed in the squat. As the bar is taken off the rack and the lifter begins the downward motion of the squat an eccentric motion is being performed. During this phase of the strength exercise athletes must contract the hamstrings, glutes, abs, and quads to perform a smooth and controlled downward motion. While the concentric phase, pushing out of the bottom of the squat, is where much of the actual work for the lift is performed. These two motions work in unison to create what is known as time under tension (or TUT). Although time under tension is often associated with strength and hypertrophy exercises it is an important part of building strength and explosive power during speed and agility training.
Eccentric motions are just as important when training to build greater speed and agility. During the baseball agility drill, as athletes bodies are accelerated toward a Speed and Agility Cone, eccentric motion is utilized in a greater capacity as the athletes reach the Speed and Agility Cone and tries to quickly redirect their body. During this short but critical period of the drill all of the energy which was generated by the athlete and the Reactive Stretch Cord pulling the athlete is transferred into the legs and hips. By placing greater stress on these parts of the body athletes will achieve greater muscle activation in the legs, hips, and core resulting in greater force production when the baseball agility drill is performed with no resistance or assistance.
How To Properly Execute the Baseball Agility Drill
To execute this baseball speed and agility drill athletes will need 4 Speed and Agility Cones, a Reactive Stretch Cord, and an anchoring partner. The anchoring partner will be in charge of the placement and movement of the Reactive Stretch Cord during the baseball agility drill.
Athletes will place the Speed and Agility Cones 8-10 feet evenly apart in a square. The anchoring partner will attach the wrist anchor to ensure safety and stand 5-6 feet off the Speed and Agility Cones. The athlete performing the baseball agility drill will attach the D-Ring in the front of the body allowing the Reactive Stretch Cord to rotate around their body.
The anchoring partners movements throughout the baseball agility drill are essential to ensure resistance and assistance are applied at the correct time and at the correct angle to effectively challenge the athlete performing the baseball agility drill. These distances are important for proper execution of the baseball agility drill as the Reactive Stretch Cord cannot stretch beyond 20 feet. The closer the Reactive Stretch Cord gets to its maximum stretch distance the more difficult the movement will become for the athlete performing the baseball agility drill. Athletes should work within the parameters of the drill to maximize its effectiveness on athletes.
Athletes will begin at one of the far Speed and Agility Cones with tension being held in the Reactive Stretch Cord. With a verbal cue, given by a coach or anchoring partner, athletes will begin sprinting to the Speed and Agility Cone placed directly in front of them. As the athlete reaches the first Speed and Agility Cone the athlete must use small steps, working off the balls of the feet to absorb the speed generated by the sprint, open up the hips, and redirect the body to the Cone diagonal to the athletes current position in the baseball agility drill. Upon reaching the diagonal Cone athletes will sprint toward the Cone in front of them and repeat the process on the opposite side of the Cone set up.
As athletes push through the resistance and reach the diagonal Speed and Agility Cone athletes will use small choppy steps too slow and explosively redirect the body toward the Speed and Agility Cone directly in front of them. As athletes run forward in the baseball agility drill anchoring partners need to pull on the Reactive Stretch Cord to force the athletes body to move more rapidly and increase stride frequency. As athletes run toward the diagonal Speed and Agility Cone anchoring partners need to pull on the Reactive Stretch Cord at an angle to provide proper resistance during the movement.
As athletes run diagonally they need to focus on taking a good first step, opening up the hips toward the running destination, and use powerful arm swings to increase the amount of force which can be produced from the bodies natural stretch shortening cycle.
Athletes will perform 6-10 repetitions of the baseball agility drill. The anchoring partner and athlete will rotate performing the baseball agility drill to allow proper recovery time for the athletes between sets. The Kbands Shakedown Drill is another excellent baseball agility drill to perform following the completion of the Reactive Stretch Cord Power Drop Steps. For demonstrations of the Kbands Shakedown Drill, and for other baseball specific drills, head to the baseball training section.
Anchor Movements During the Baseball Agility Drill
As stated previously the movements of the anchoring partner during the baseball agility drill are critical to its effectiveness. As athletes move left and right through the baseball agility drill anchoring partners must move left and right providing the proper angle to maximize the assistance and resistance applied by the Reactive Stretch Cord. As athletes move forward and backward through the baseball agility drill anchors must provide proper assistance and resistance to challenge them as they run diagonally toward a cone and providing the correct amount of assistance as they perform their straight sprint.