Read and Recovery Outfield Drill | Baseball Speed
Speed for a successful outfielder is a necessity. It not only allows outfielders to make more plays on the ball, but allows them to cover up a bad read on a fly ball by having enough acceleration and leg drive to recover and make the play. Baseball speed drills, which incorporate Kbands into this outfield drill, will help to further enhance the muscular development of the hips and legs.
Adding resistance to baseball speed drills which force athletes to open up their hips will allow them to really focus on good footwork and body positioning while quickly changing directions. Good footwork will allow athletes to gain an extra step on fly balls hit over their head resulting in successfully completing more high difficulty or over the shoulder catches in the outfield. Utilizing resistance after the athlete has turned and opened up the hips allows the athlete to improve on the initial “dig phase” of their sprint. This is one of the most important phases of the sprinting process. It determines how quickly an athlete can accelerate to their top speed.
Completing The Read And Recovery Outfield Drill
Baseball players who are constantly getting beat by fly balls over their head, or simply want to improve their ability to field balls in the outfield, need to practice the Read And Recovery Outfield Drill.
To begin the baseball speed drill athletes will need a set of Kbands, baseball, baseball glove, and an assisting partner to throw fly balls. Athletes and coaches will also want to ensure there is enough space for athletes to sprint and catch fly balls without having any interference from other objects. After attaching the Kbands just above the knees athletes will assume a good baseball position (backs straight, knees slightly bent) with their bodies as their partner lines up 10-15 yards directly in front of the athlete. The athlete and partner should be facing each other to begin the outfield drill. Partners or coaches will give a verbal cue to begin the baseball speed drill. Once this cue is given athletes will take 2-3 explosive steps forward before turning, opening up the hips, and sprinting full speed away from their partner.
Athletes will not focus on the ball and simply focus on the sprint for 2-3 steps before turning their head and locating the fly ball. Once athletes make their turn and have taken 2-3 explosive sprinting steps away from their partner, partners will throw a fly ball, which must be caught over the shoulder by the athlete.
Athletes need to take this opportunity to practice their running form as they turn and begin their sprint. Practicing good running form during baseball training will help these baseball skills translate into better game performance.
Proper Body Positioning During The Outfield Drill To Increase Overall Baseball Speed
There are two points in this baseball speed drill which athletes and coaches need to pay extra attention: body and foot positioning. The first point in the outfield drill which must be analyzed is after athletes have taken their forward steps and are making the turn into their explosive step. As athletes sprint forward it is important they use short choppy steps to slow their body before making the turn. These short choppy steps allow athletes to slow their forward momentum and maintain better balance and body control as they change their momentum. As athletes begin to transition into the sprinting phase of the outfield drill it is important athletes open up the hips and step back with the leg on the same side they will be turning. If athletes are turning to their right they will open up their hips and make a strong first step with their right leg. Second, as athletes open up the hips and turn, it is important they point the toe of the foot turning in the same direction they will be running. This means athletes toes should not be pointing to the side but athletes should instead focus on driving the knee and the toe in the direction, which the athlete will be running. As athletes turn their body and go into their sprinting phase it is important they work against the resistance and control their body movements. This body positioning will allow athletes to be efficient in their movements and attain maximum sprinting speed at a faster rate. This will also eliminate false or wasted steps that athletes may take while making this turn with their bodies.
Once athletes have turned their bodies they need to focus on sprinting for 2-3 steps before looking up and over their shoulder while trying to locate the ball. During the sprint portion of the drill athletes need to go through a proper “dig phase”. This phase of running involves athletes lowering their chest, powerfully pumping the arms and driving the legs while working off of the balls of their feet. This acceleration phase of sprinting is the most important phase for an outfielder who is trying to make up ground on a misjudged fly ball.
Athletes will perform 8-10 resisted sets of the baseball speed exercise before removing the Kbands and performing 2-3 unresisted sets of the outfield drill. Since the legs will feel light following resisted sets athletes need to pay extra close attention to running form and body positioning during unresisted sets of the baseball speed drill. Allow 40-60 seconds of rest between sets of the outfield drill so all repetitions can be performed at full speed. Keeping the intensity high throughout the entirety of the baseball speed drill allows athletes to not only work on their top end speed, but will also help athletes condition themselves to perform these sprints at a higher level with less fatigue following the baseball speed sprint. This added sprint conditioning will allow athletes to have greater energy after the sprint for a strong throw back to the infield.
Baseball Strengthening Drills To Pair With This Baseball Speed Outfield Drill
Athletes can complete this drill in a team or small group setting. Athletes and coaches need to incorporate strength exercises along with the baseball speed drills into the baseball training session to challenge and improve athletes overall strength. Athletes and coaches can use the KB Powerbands Shoulder Progression, Rhythm Of Three Hitting Drill, and the Lateral Leg Drive Drill along with this baseball speed drill to help baseball players improve leg and shoulder strength, reduce reaction time to the ball and increase throwing accuracy.
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