Softball Base Running: Speed Training
The core principles behind explosive softball base running are the same principles that drive sprinters on the track. A powerful base run comes from a powerful start, and the faster a player digs in and brings the body from a standstill to an aggressive full-speed run, the more likely she is to gain a safe call instead of an out. Softball speed training drills like the ones demonstrated in the video below can help players generate the instant and sustained momentum they need to make it home. Follow along with Trevor Theismann as he works with a team to generate powerful starts and work through the dig phase with big arms and strong technique.
Speed training drills like these tend to be more effective if softball players have access to outside perspective on their technique and body position, so these drills are best executed in groups or with oversight from a coach, parent, or partner. In this demonstration, the players are divided into five pairs and they run the circuit with the attention and pointers of a trainer. After watching the training video, coaches and players can determine how to divide up and complete the drill on their own.
Softball Base Running: Setting Up the Drill
This speed training drill doesn’t require much in terms of equipment, only a pair of Kbands resistance bands for each player and enough agility cones to provide a start point and end point for each sprint. If possible, the sprint distance should equal the distance between first and second base. Before running the drill, players should warm up, stretch, and attach the Kbands to the upper legs with the short resistance band clipped to the straps in front and the longer band attached in the back.
Speed Training Drill: Technique at the Start
The first ten steps represent the most important phase of any sprint or base run. And the first ten steps, or the dig phase, begin with proper technique at the start point. While waiting at the first cone for the starting signal, players should think about the position of the head, specifically the chin. When the head stays forward, the upper torso and chest stay forward. This keeps the body ahead of the hips and allows the hips and legs to dig in at each step and drive the runner toward the base.
This means that before the runner takes a single step, the head should be forward, the chin should be down and the hips and legs should be ready to dig and stay behind the motion. Meanwhile, arm engagement also plays a crucial role in a strong start. Since the arms will contribute to speed in a vital way, they need to be properly position before the run begins. The elbows should be up, the shoulders should be relaxed, and the arms should be ready to fully engage and drive the body during the dig phase. Notice how the players in the video position their arms before the starting signal.
Speed Training Drill: The Dig Phase
As soon as the signal is given, the dig phase begins. And the very first step of this phase is the most important. At this step, the arms should engage and the knee should drive up and drive the body forward. The elevation and drive of the knees should be exaggerated during the dig phase. Softball players should actually try to envision the knee coming all the way up to the chest, since the higher and more driven the knee, the more power will be generated in the hips. Meanwhile, as the knee comes up to the chest, the chest stays down and forward, the chin stays down, and the upper body stays ahead of the hips. Players should envision the knees and head at the leading edge of the motion, and the hips behind the body, driving it forward like an engine.
The arms will play a powerful role in the dig phase as well. Players should be sure to keep the elbows at a right angle and make sure the swing of the arms covers the entire range of motion. This means the hands come all the way to the cheek at the forward swing. Players can practice this full range of arm motion before the run begins.
Speed Training: Aggression at the Start
As discussed in the video, the moment the body enters the dig phase and leaves the base, players should be fully invested and ready to put everything they have into the run. This means maximum aggression from the first second. Players often check the pitcher and hesitate as they step off the base, but this split second of hesitation can mean the difference between out and safe. This micro-pause tends to tense the shoulders and take the drive out of the knees, which drains the player’s energy and gets the run off to a slow start.
Speed Training: Final Notes
The three most important keys to speed during the base run are as follows:
1. Body position: chest and chin should be down, arms should be wide and ready to engage.
2. First step: The knees should drive all the way up to the chest, and the arms should swing in a full range of motion.
3. During the run: The hips should stay behind the body and drive it forward.
4. Aggression: Players should not pause too long to wait for the pitcher. The first step off the base should be aggressive and committed.
For more information on base running technique and how the Kbands resistance training equipment can help players build strength and power in the hips, quads and core, visit the training tab above. We offer volumes of information on training tips and body mechanics, plus plenty of softball-focused training videos like this one that can elevate both team and individual performance on the field. For answers to specific questions, leave a comment on the site or reach out directly to the Kbands trainers.
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