Softball Speed Drills: First Step Quickness
Effective softball training drills target all aspects of the game, but when coaches decide to focus on speed, they need to concentrate on two areas above all others: softball fielding and sprints. The burst of speed required by a base run starts in the hip flexors and core and depends on proper technique and foot placement for success. A strong base run doesn’t require endurance as much as quick reflexes, fast footwork, and explosivity.
Softball fielding also demands fast response times, attention, aggression, and agility. Softball players need to learn how to fall back fast, stay ahead of the hips during the run, and stop and start with controlled, split second timing. Softball speed drills have a few overlaps with track and field sprint drills, but since footwork is vital to softball fielding, there are a few areas of technique that softball coaches will need to watch closely in order to help their teams advance.
Both coaches and softball players can follow along with the video below as Trevor Theismann takes a softball team through a quick set of softball fielding and softball speed drills. As players watch the video, they should focus on following the tips and executing the moves correctly. Coaches can use the video to identify areas to focus on as they train their own teams.
Setting Up the Softball Speed Drill
An entire team can execute a softball speed drill like this one at the same time, but coaches may be able to provide more individual attention and pointers if the team is divide into two groups. One group can focus on fielding practice while the other group puts on the Kbands resistance training bands and completes the moves seen here.
The drill will require two agility cones and a set of Kbands for each player. Both the agility cones and the Kbands are available for purchase at KbandsTraining.com. Players should begin by attaching the straps of the Kbands snuggly around the upper leg and clipping on the resistance bands with the short band in front and the longer band attached in the back.
The first set of agility cones should be placed in a line at the starting point of the softball speed drill, and the second set should be placed parallel to the first line, but slightly further back, so the players will need to drop back as they begin the dash from the first cone to the second.
Executing the Softball Speed Drill
At the beginning of the softball speed drill, each player will stand at her first cone and wait for the starting signal. At the signal, the player will rotate, drop back, and make an explosive run for the second cone. But coaches should keep in mind that this is not a simple running drill. Foot placement and technique are the focal point of this exercise, so coaches should pay close attention to each player’s initial step.
For maximum speed to the second cone, the first stride should stay short and controlled, and the body should stay directly over the hips, not behind them. Coaches should not let players take an initial long stride that puts the hips ahead of the body and reduces forward momentum. At the starting signal, the foot should turn back toward the direction of motion, the first stride should be short and explosive, and the player should follow the initial stride with a controlled, aggressive run that stops short at the second agility cone.
From the start point to the end point, the player’s body should be in motion, but her attention should stay directed forward. The second she reaches the end cone, her eyes should move back to the front of the room. Players should give their all in order to reach the base (the agility cone) fast, but as soon as they arrive, they need to stop and find the ball.
Agility, speed, and reflexes demand full engagement from the arms and the knees. So in addition to keeping the attention forward and the initial stride under control, players will need to keep the arms in motion from beginning to end. They will also need to drive the knees against the resistance of the bands to maintain speed and build strength in the core, glutes, and hip flexors.
Players should move through the softball speed drill several times in a row with the resistance bands in place, and then several more times with the bands removed. After the resistance bands are unclipped, players will experience a temporary neurological sensation of lightness that can help them develop and maintain a burst of explosive speed while focusing on controlled footwork.
At each run, coaches should shift their attention from player to player, paying close attention to subtle aspects of running form, body position, arm engagement and drive in the knees. Coaches should call out to players while in motion, correcting form and making sure players stay aggressive from the beginning of the drill to the end.
Softball Speed Drills: Final Notes
Softball speed drills like these should be balanced with softball fielding drills that can help players fall back quickly, keep their attention on the ball, and respond to rapid changes on the field. For the development of both softball fielding and base running technique, the Kbands resistance training equipment can add an element of targeted tension that builds strength in the muscle groups most responsible for agility and speed.
For additional softball training videos and more information about the Kbands and how they work, softball coaches and players can explore the resources available at Kbands Training. com. The site offers an extensive series of softball drills and instructional videos, as well as detailed guidance on how to maximize the benefits of the Kbands, KB Powerbands and KB Duo suspension training system. For answers to specific questions, visitors are welcome to leave a comment on the site or reach out directly to the Kbands trainers.
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