How The RSC Transitional Speed Drill Effects Stride Frequency Vs. Stride Length
Stride frequency involves the number of times the feet are able to contact the ground in a given amount of time or space. Stride frequency is extremely important for athletes looking to improve speed and quickness over a short distance. Increasing stride frequency allows a baseball player to quickly recover and make an accurate throw after making a diving catch in the outfield or allow an infielder to recover and make an accurate throw after slipping, falling, or lunging for a line drive.
Elite athletes will reach their maximum stride frequency around 25 meters, while novice athletes generally reach their maximum stride frequency around 10-15 meters. The RSC Transitional Speed Drill is a great tool to build stride frequency and acceleration since athletes cannot reach maximum stride frequency within the 15 feet space of the baseball conditioning drill. This forces athletes to work on their “build up” and focus on running form and acceleration through the first phase of their sprint.
Stride length does not refer to the amount of distance created between the legs as an athlete is sprinting. Stride length instead refers to the amount of distance the center of the body is able to travel with each stride. This means that long legs do not necessarily translate into faster sprints. Stride length is more about the power produced with each stride versus the length the legs are able to reach.
Stride Length is related to stride frequency as the combination of these two factors produce maximal running speed in athletes. Both stride frequency and stride length are important to develop in athletes. Although this baseball conditioning drill focuses on stride turnover and stride frequency, it is important that athletes train their lower body to be powerful and explosive to maximize stride length. Stride length is much more difficult to teach athletes which is why more attention is normally dedicated to increasing an athletes stride frequency to enhance speed.
Creating Propulsion Early In the Stride
The RSC Transitional Speed Drill is an effective baseball conditioning drill due to its ability to force athletes to produce stride frequency early in their sprint. Many athletes will think of their legs pulling the ground underneath them and then pushing away as the leg extends to the rear of the athlete. Baseball players should instead think of creating propulsion closer to the center of the body and as early in their stride as possible, to maximize the explosive effect created by the foot contacting the ground.
Many athletes will incorrectly want to take long strides and try to pull the ground behind them as they sprint. To help athletes maximize the speed and drive they receive from each contact with the ground, it is important athletes quickly explode and extend the knees, ankles, and hips (triple extension) while the foot is closer to the center of the body. Athletes need to work off the balls of their feet as they complete the baseball conditioning drill. This will allow for greater stride length (movement of the center of the body) as well as allowing athletes to quickly recontact the ground. If the foot is not making contact with the ground it cannot help push the athlete forward. For this reason quick and powerful strides must be used to optimize sprint training for athletes.
The RSC Transitional Speed Drill teaches baseball players to utilize these running dynamics in order to increase the athletes stride frequency during training and competition.
How To Sprint Faster Using the RSC Transitional Speed Drill
To set up the RSC (Reactive Stretch Cord) Transitional Speed Drill baseball players will need:
1. 2-4 Speed and Agility Cones
2. Partner (anchor)
3. Reactive Stretch Cord
4. Baseball Glove (optional)
Athletes need to keep in mind that the Reactive Stretch Cord cannot stretch beyond 20 feet. This means the RSC Transitional Speed Drill cannot extend beyond 20 feet. Athletes will place the Speed and Agility Cones 15 feet apart forming a start line and a finish line. One partner will attach the anchor strap around the wrist while the baseball player performing the RSC Transitional Speed Drill attaches the D-RIng around the waist, attaching the Reactive Stretch Cord to the front.
The partner holding the anchor strap will stand to the side of the finish line with arms extended. Partners will keep the arms extended during the baseball conditioning drill to add pull and assistance to the sprinter while being in a good position to drop the Reactive Stretch Cord as the athlete sprints by. It is important the partner is aware of the location of the Reactive Stretch Cord and not allow the athlete to trip over the Reactive Stretch Cord as they run by, or provide resistance as the athletes sprints past the finishing Speed and Agility Cones.
Athletes performing the baseball conditioning drill will begin by lying facedown on the ground at the opposite Speed and Agility Cone of the assisting partner. A verbal cue will be given by the assisting partner to signal the athlete to come up quickly and begin to sprint. There should be no tension on the Reactive Stretch Cord until the athlete has begun to sprint. Partners will pull once the athlete begins their sprint, providing assistance to the baseball conditioning drill.
Athletes will use good sprinting form and the assistance provided by the Reactive Stretch Cord to accelerate toward the finish line. It is important athletes do not over stride during the initial “get-up” and sprint phase of the RSC Transitional Speed Drill. Athletes need to stay in control and actively think about making as many contacts with the ground as possible and not rely completely on the assistance to pull them through the sprint. During the initial take off the athlete needs to have a good drive forward with the arms and continue driving the arms throughout the RSC Transitional Speed Drill.
By focusing on getting the maximum number of contacts with the ground, athletes will make greater neurological connections with the muscles activating a greater number of fast twitch muscle fibers, which will greatly enhance an athletes quickness and ability to react.
Baseball players will perform 6-8 repetitions of the RSC Transitional Speed Drill providing adequate rest periods of 45 seconds to 3 minutes based on conditioning and fitness level of the athlete performing the baseball conditioning drill. Following the completion of the RSC Transitional Speed Drill athletes should perform more sprinting drills, focused on increasing either stride length or stride frequency.
Athletes should also pair this baseball conditioning drill with the RSC Fast Hands Drill. By pairing the two drills, athletes will greatly enhance their ability to make quick diving plays, gain balance, and then make quick and accurate throws. These baseball skills are essential for baseball players to develop and will result in more highlight catches and throws during competition.
Mechanical and Technical Errors While Performing The RSC Transitional Speed Drill
While performing this baseball conditioning drill athletes need to focus on form and running technique. Athletes need to make sure they are not coming out of the “dig phase” to soon and do not allow the chest to immediately pop up at the onset of the baseball conditioning drill. Arm action is critical as a powerful arm swing must be utilized as the sprinter comes up and begins to explosively sprint. During the arm swing athletes need to remember it is an “arm” swing and not a shoulder swing. Excessive movement of the shoulders results in wasted movement and energy and can have a detrimental effect on the sprint.
Footwork is essential and athletes need to make sure they are not running flat-footed or with their feet turned outward. Instead athletes should keep the toes pointed forward and work off the balls of their feet to maximize power and drive during the baseball conditioning drill. Another great baseball conditioning drill is the Baseball Wall Drill. Go to the sports training section to see other great baseball drills and videos to improve your baseball speed and agility.
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