In baseball, it’s pretty tough to make the argument that’s it’s not wildly crucial to have a high level of speed development. No matter how big you are, you can’t rely on hitting power alone in order to make the bases – running faster is a skill needed to express your full potential in this sport.
If you’re a regular reader of my content, you already know from past blogs that the four pillars of trainable movement that we can harness in our program design to improve baseball performance are:
- Changing levels
I have already covered pillars 2, 3, and 4 in past blog entries, and in this final entry to top-off this series I am going to completely break down locomotion and provide you with two workouts that you can start using immediately in order to improve your running speed and agility.
Breaking It into Pieces
Running speed and agility are at the top of the wish list when athletes come to me to design their strength and conditioning system. In order to provide them the result they desire, I need to be able to break down what locomotion really is so that I can use the correct movements in the gym that will have the highest level of transferability out in a real game setting.
Some of you might be wondering why I’m using the term “locomotion” and not just simply saying “running” – the reason why I have been using those terms interchangeably is that although running in a part of locomotion, locomotion also involves other aspects of movement as well.
You can think about locomotion as any action that uses alternating leg movements to move the body from point A to point B.
During locomotion, a single foot is planted on the ground, and that ground contact transfers energy to move the hips in an intended direction. The hips then travel over the planted foot, the other foot is planted on the ground, and the cycle continues.
This means whether you are running to second base, shuffling back and forth in the hotbox, or quickly changing directions as a fielder trying to track the ball – baseball locomotion eventually puts your body’s weight on a single leg, and it is precisely this single leg component that we need to fully understand in order to maximize our baseball program design.
Let’s dive into this single leg importance a little deeper so you can better understand why this needs to be a part of your baseball training toolkit.
The Importance of Single Leg Movements
If you look at a traditional strength and conditioning program, there is a very heavy reliance of two-legged movements such as barbell squats, barbell deadlifts, and leg presses. Although these exercises can absolutely improve locomotion, they can lack the sport specific need to baseball players at times.
When training for strength and only ever using two-legged exercises, the athlete will always have two feet planted strong on the ground and can very efficiently brace his/her core in order to create complete stability all the way from the ground up. This is the primary reason why you can use such massive loads with the squat, deadlift, and leg press.
Although these heavy loads and strong stability allow us to do a lot of great things; from a locomotion perspective, it highly advantages to incorporate a lot of single leg work into your program design because unlike the two-feet planted side-by-side approach – single leg movements require a greater activation of your stability muscles (specifically ground-based stability in your hips).
Now, what’s most important to understand here is that you are more unstable doing single leg movements and any instability within the hip results in an inhibitory effect that shuts down the body’s ability to produce a force that could possibly put the hip in danger.
Naturally, the negative aspect of protecting the hip through these inhibitory mechanisms is that you end up moving slower because your body feels you do not have the stability required in order to explode and not hurt yourself in the process. Essentially, if you have unstable hips, your nervous system will shut down power production during locomotion in order to save you from inflicting injury upon yourself.
The good news?
Single leg training not only strengthens the stability muscles within the hips, but the bonus effect of this enhanced stability in the hips decreases the nervous system inhibition of power output because it is deeming you as “safe” to run faster and jump higher.
Free At-Home Baseball Speed Workouts
If you have been paying close attention to the descriptions above, you’ll know that locomotion has plenty more application features for baseball training program design – most of which including the enhancement of overall coordination and the sequencing of movement from the upper body to the lower body, and the left side of your body to the right side.
But, we’ll have to discuss all of that another day!
I have already discussed many ways in which you can enhance your speed and agility in the past through strength training – and it’s no mistake why you consistently see me using similar exercises from time-to-time. They have a massive return on investment and have phenomenal transferability towards baseball performance in the real world.
The best part?
They can be performed at home with minimal equipment. Below are two workouts you can perform at-home right away to start enhancing your locomotion ability – and therefore your speed and agility in baseball.
At-Home Baseball Training Schedule
Day 1: Workout 1
Day 2: Workout 2
Day 3: Off
Day 4: Workout 1
Day 5: Workout 2
Day 6: Off
Day 7: Off
At Home Baseball Speed Workout #1
A: Single leg anterior contralateral reaches (slow and controlled): 3 x 5 per side with minimal rest in between
B: Stability ball lateral wall slides with inside leg: 3 x 15 per leg with 60 seconds rest
C: Split squat jumps: 3 x 8 per side with 60 seconds rest
At Home Baseball Speed Workout #2
A: Bulgarian split squats: 3 x 15 per side with 60 seconds rest
B: Stability ball lateral wall slides with outside leg: 3 x 15 per leg with 60 seconds rest
C: Single leg stability ball hip thrusts: 3 x 15 per leg with 60 seconds rest
The above workouts are to be seen as something you can do as an addition to your current routine and shouldn’t be seen as a complete baseball training program as that would require the other three pillars of movement that I alluded to at the beginning of this article.
I hope you were able to learn something new today and that you try these workouts out at home baseball speed workouts sometime to take your baseball performance to the next level. If you do, give me a shout and let me know how it goes!
And be sure to check out our Baseball Training Programs if you’re serious about becoming a better baseball player this year.