Agility is essentially multi-directional speed, and is important for baseball players to perform well running and in the field. Agility requires the ability to recognize, react, start (or accelerate) quickly, control tempo, change direction efficiently, and maintain body control throughout a variety of movements. Agility training is made up primarily of two types of drills: Footwork Drills and Change of Direction Drills.
The purpose of footwork is to get the player in the right place at the right time. Because all movement is initiated off the ground, the feet must absorb shock on ground contact and then use those forces to propel the body in the desired direction. Footwork drills can be broken down further into hopping and stepping movements and are commonly trained using ladder and dot drills. Hopping drills are low intensity plyometrics requiring increased core stability to maintain an athletic posture. Hopping drills focus on absorbing shock and the initial propulsion off the ground. Stepping drills are designed to control the body with the appropriate foot placement. These drills are made baseball specific by incorporating the crossover step (i.e. fielding and baserunning), level changes (i.e. picking up a ball), and footwork patterns similar to covering a base (i.e. pitchers and infielders).
Change of Direction Drills
Changing direction requires players to decelerate and re-accelerate efficiently. On the bases changing direction may mean reversing direction completely. In the field, tracking a fly ball, charging a ground ball, or getting in position to turn a double play or back-up a base will likely always require moving on an angle and adjusting your direction. Every change of direction consists of three important steps:
- Plant Step – Breaking down and decelerating the body
- Transfer Step – Shifting the body weight in the new direction
- Acceleration Step – Moving on the adjusted course
Common change of direction drills include the 5-10-5 Pro Agility Test, a variety of cone drills, and the 60-yard shuttle. Changing direction relies on efficient footwork and body control. These drills are considered more intense than the footwork drills in our program due to the increased speed and amount space covered.
- Agility is Speed Work – It should be done when fresh to obtain optimal results. Always perform quality work before quantity work
- “Plant, Transfer, and Accelerate” – All changes in direction can be broken down into these three steps
- Planning – Drills do not have to be done all at one time. They can be distributed throughout a training session
- Recovery – Be sure to allow enough rest between drills so that quality is maintained
- Technique – In the beginning stages technique is more important that speed
“Don’t Let Fatigue Beat You! Always Perform Quality Work Before Quantity Work”