How Lateral Speed Drills Improve Pitching Velocity And Bat Acceleration
In order for pitchers and hitters to increase their throwing velocity and bat acceleration the power they produce in their leg drive must be increased. Since rotational power comes from leg drive, utilizing the power jumping aspect of the resisted Lateral Speed Drill makes this drill ideal for enhancing rotational power in athletes.
When a batter is standing ready to hit a pitch they do not stand with straight legs and straight back, instead they bend their knees and stand in an athletic stance. This position is optimal for batters since it puts the body at a greater advantage to react and recruit proper muscles to execute the swing and drive with the back foot. A pitcher will prepare his body in a slightly different way as pitchers raise the leg and rotate the body, and push off with the back foot to help the body speed up and release the baseball. Pitchers and hitters utilize the hips, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and abdominal muscles to execute a quick and powerful swing or a high velocity pitch.
When a hitter is down in their stance with an arched back and bent knees this puts the glutes and hamstrings at a mechanical advantage to rotate and extend the hips. This rotational motion is stabilized through the abdominal muscles producing greater rotational power and speed as the batter pushes off the back foot. As a pitcher raises the knee and pushes themselves toward home plate a similar motion is being performed. As the hips rotate the glutes and hamstrings help push the back foot off the mound and accelerate the pitchers body toward home plate, helping to put more velocity on the ball being thrown.
Lateral motions are controlled through the glute and hamstring muscles; therefore, lateral drills are ideal for pitchers and hitters to produce greater velocity and acceleration in their pitching and hitting.
How To Set Up And Execute The Resisted Leg Drive Drill
In order to successfully complete the Lateral Speed Drill athletes will need 2 Speed and Agility Cones and a set of Kbands. Place the Speed and Agility Cones at a distance that the athlete can reach while jumping laterally, keeping in mind that the athlete will be utilizing resistance while power jumping during this Lateral Speed Drill. The Speed and Agility Cones will serve as a visual cue to the athletes, so be sure the Speed and Agility Cones are set at a challenging but not unreasonable distance apart.
Athletes will begin the Lateral Speed Drill by securely attaching the Kbands just above the knees and standing at one of the Speed and Agility Cones preparing to produce maximum power jumping laterally. The athlete will raise the inside leg, balance on the outside leg, then explosively and with power jump laterally to the opposite Speed and Agility Cone, landing on the opposite foot, repeating this process for the desired number of repetitions.
Athletes will perform 4-6 resisted sets of 8-12 repetitions of the Lateral Speed Drill. Following the resisted sets, athletes will remove the Kbands and perform 2 unresisted sets of 8-12 repetitions of the Lateral Speed Drill. During the unresisted repetitions of the Lateral Speed Drill the athlete should try to be more explosive and produce more power, jumping farther past the Speed and Agility Cones. 45-90 seconds of rest should be given to ensure the athlete can maximize their power jumping.
Tips To Optimize Lateral Power Jumping Capabilities
When performing the Kbands Resisted Leg Drive athletes should take their time and not rush through the Lateral Speed Drill. By focusing on balance between each jump athletes will force the glutes, hips, and hamstrings to mimic a more game like feeling. While pitching from the wind-up or stretch pitchers must find balance before pushing off with their back foot; many batters raise the front leg before finding balance and driving off with the rear leg. By mimicking the motions the body will go through in training and competition, athletes will be able to add more power and explosion to these rotational movements.
By keeping the body in an erect position (chest high, not letting the chest come over the toes, or hunching over) during the Lateral Speed Drill athletes will be able to put their body in a better position to produce more power jumping, through the glutes and hamstrings. When athletes are hunched over and the chest comes over the toes their weight is shifted from their hamstrings and glutes into their quadriceps. Although quadriceps do aid the hips in rotation these muscle are large and cannot fire as quickly and produce as much power jumping as the hamstrings or glutes. This causes a breakdown in mechanics which can lead to injury and result in a slower, less powerful swing or pitch due to decreased leg drive.
While performing this Lateral Speed Drill it is important to ensure:
1) Using the correct resistance band.
2) Monitoring the time between sets.
3) Performing the proper number of repetitions.
4) The proper number of sets of the Lateral Speed Drill are performed.
The goal of the Lateral Speed Drill is to increase power jumping laterally. If these factors are not monitored during the Lateral Speed Drill desired results will not be achieved. Athletes should be given 45-90 seconds of rest in between sets. This will ensure the athlete is able to jump with maximum power on each repetition. If an athlete is having trouble completing all of the required repetitions on the first 1-3 sets the number of repetitions, then the amount of resistance, number of sets, or the number of repetitions utilized during the Lateral Speed Drill should be reevaluated.
Power Developments Out Of Lateral Movements
Power development out of lateral movements has a wide application to many sports where there is jumping, running, swinging or swimming. Any sport which requires hip rotation or quick and powerful extension of the knees and hips can benefit greatly from utilizing the Kbands Resisted Leg Drive in their regular training routine.
Along with aiding pitchers and hitters in achieving more power through greater hip rotation, the muscle activation achieved during this Lateral Speed Drill can help a basketball player get higher for a rebound, and help a tennis player put more speed and movement on their serves. This drill has the ability to enhance both the jumping and hip rotation movements.
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