Building Baseball Speed – Part 4

This is where the rubber really meets the road with the exact cues that you need to know as both a player or coach to get the most out of your acceleration mechanics.

Below are some links that I am talking about.  They are on another site that I have been building for a while now called “Big League Athlete”.  It is a site that is geared towards young athletes that want to become better baseball players.  My goal with the site is to make something that I would have wanted as a kid wanting to become as good of a baseball player as I could.  The site is by no means perfect or a finished product.  it does however provide a lot of great info that most players can benefit from.

Acceleration Cues – Upper Body

Acceleration Cues – Lower Body

Please let your players that you deal with know about it since there is a ton of great information on it and I plan on filling it up with a lot more.

Since you are reading this site I welcome any feed back about either of these two sites.

Thanks again

Graeme Lehman Msc, CSCS

p.s I will continue to post articles of this site.  Articles that appeal to the real baseball/exercise science fan that wants to understand the principals and research behind enhanced baseball athletic performance.

Building Baseball Speed Part 3

This article will hopefully give you a couple of ideas of how to integrate sprint training into a baseball practice.  Before that I would really like stress how important it is to dedicate at least one 30-45 minute  block on sprint/acceleration training per week.  After all it is one of the Tools that make up a complete 5 tool player so it would only make sense to spend some time and energy on this vital tool for success at the next level.

If you get the head coach involved and buying into the importance of sprint training you will send a message that this is something that is important.  And if something is important is should be the center of attention once in a while.

Having one dedicated sprint session complete with stop watches to help measure intensity increase your chances of seeing results.


Another benefit is that your players will get to learn from one another as they watch each others mechanics both good and bad.  This type of peer learning is something that you as a coach can’t provide.

Ultimately however we need to use this speed in a game to truly benefit from this type of training.  To make this happen we will take the information from the last post (reps, distance, intensity and rest) and apply it to many of the drills we are already using with our players.  The major benefit here is that the athletes start their sprints when the ball is put in play rather than waiting for a coach to yell “GO!!”.

Speed Stations

Every baseball team in the world takes batting practice (BP) and this always involves setting up hitting groups.  When you aren’t hitting traditionally you would be working on other parts of your game like bunting, base running, tee work or everyone’s favorite, shagging.

download (1)


Any of these stations can be transformed into sprint training as long as you respect the principals of rest, intensity and volume that I’ve already covered in part 2.

Let’s start with the shagging station with what I call sprint shag.

Sprint Shag: If you have multiple shagging groups dedicate one to be the “sprint” group.  This group performs one sprint every 60, 90 or 120 seconds depending on the distance that they are running, see the chart at the end of this article.

The athlete reacts off the ball being put in play and even if it isn’t hit towards them they will sprint the 10/15/20 yards in the distance in the direction that the ball is hit.  So if you are playing CF and the ball is hit down the third base line you would sprint the 10,15 or 20 yards in that direction.

Put some markings on the ground to give your players an idea of how far each distance is in a full 360 degree radius around their defensive position. Create with circles with about 6 saucer type cones in a 10, 15 and 20 yard radius from the starting point.

As reference the radius of the circle at the center of a soccer field is 10 yards.


It would then look something like this image below describing UZR (ultimate zone rating) which is one of the new age stats that does a better job of describing defensive value than looking at errors alone.

defense 1

By replicating something like this on the field really gives your players a better idea of how they their improvements in their ability to sprint and cover these distances in less time increases their value as a defender.

Checkout the added value at a big league burner like Peter Bourjos provides his team compared to other big league center-fielders.

peter b defense

Another reasons that I like this type of sprint training is that it gives players the chances to work on their sprinting while running with a glove on.  Too often I will see an outfielder extend their glove arm in the sky to catch the ball while they are still running.  You don’t have to be a bio-mechanical expert to know that it is inefficient to run with one arm up.  That arm needs to be pumping back and forth with the other one generating force rather than sticking up in the air slowing you down. Think of an NFL receiver who puts their arms up at the last second to both run faster and not to tip off the defender.


That left arm is helping drive the right leg into the ground right now

We will use it to catch the ball later

Base Running:  this is a very common station that is already used by most coaches.  If again you apply the rep, volume and rest principals from what we already learnt in part 2 you can make this station that much better.

Perform one all out sprint every 60, 90 or 120 seconds while getting reads during your rest time.

On some of the longer sprints I like the idea of practicing taking a turn to go more than one base at a time like scoring from second base.  To do this while still staying within the distances set above I would let the players get a big secondary lead and build up a rolling start into the base that they going round.  Using the “rolling” start method you can get your guys to run longer distances but they only go above 90% for the 10/15/20 yards.  They can be moving pretty quickly the rest of the time but you should be able to notice it when they shift gears up to that 90+ range.

In a 20 yard sprint you would be going fast for 10 yards before and after the bag.


Work on that lean!!

Bunting:  The bunting is pretty self explanatory.  Bunt the ball and run down the first base line to either the 10,15 or 20 yard mark; rest the appropriate amount of time and repeat.  Put a stop watch on them from the time the ball hits the bat to when they cross the 10/15/20 yard line.

Here is the gold standard of Billy Hamilton performing it perfectly

Billy’s Buntbilly bunt

In-field hit (aka Hit n’ Run): I think one of the sprints that we need to focus the most on is how you accelerate after you put the ball in play.  We don’t want to work on hitting soft ground balls in the in-field but they do happen and if you can leg on out once in a while you will see your average go up while obviously extending innings.

Here are couple of good examples from either side of the plate.

denard hit and run

In a cage you can angle yourself to in the ball of a tee into the side of the cage and then sprint down the first base line.  This is great because you need to apply the rules of how to accelerate, next article, from the position your body is in after taking a FULL SWING.  I capitalized this because every time I have ever seen a team do this kind of drill you are going to get a player or two have just waves the bat at the ball and sprints.  This isn’t how you hit in a game, or at least I hope not, so don’t practice this way.

Here you need a stop watch for the time between contact and when they cross the finish line.  You do need to judge each swing to determine that it was hard enough.

Hopefully these are some useful and practical ideas of how to implement some sprint training into a baseball practice.

You only need to do two workouts per week, see below.  If one can be done on its own as a “sprint” practice and another done within batting practice stations on non-consecutive days you would have yourself a pretty good program.

The final part of this series will focus on some drill, cues and exercises that will maximize the time and effort you put into sprint training.

Graeme Lehman, MSc, CSCS

Four Week Sprint Training Program

Distance Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 All Weeks
Day 1 Yards Reps Reps Reps Reps Rest
10 4 5 5 5 60 sec
15 4 4 5 5 90 sec
20 4 4 4 5 120 sec
Distance Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 All Weeks
Day 2 Yards Reps Reps Reps Reps Rest
10 3 4 4 4 60 sec
15 3 3 4 4 90 sec
20 3 3 3 4 120 sec

Building Baseball Speed Part 2

Welcome back to my series of how to help baseball players run faster so that they both can score more runs on offensive side of the game while also taking runs away on the defensive side by tracking down the baseball.  Part 1 went into a lot of detail about just how fast big league player and how you can measure your own speed.  In final two parts I am going to talk about how to implement sprint/acceleration training into a baseball practice and finally some specific drills, cues and exercises that have been proven to help increase running speed by improving mechanics and/or strength levels.

Before we get into that I need to cover some basic principals of sprint/acceleration training because without these in place you are essentially going to spend a lot of time and energy making your players slower and putting them at risk of injury.

How do you practice getting faster?

The only way to get better at running faster is to practice running faster.


Here is example of what a good sprinting practice might look like for a baseball player that I stole from a renowned sprinting coach Derek Hansen, he consults with NFL teams on speed training and the last time I checked all those guys are pretty fast!!

Yards Reps
10 4
15 4
20 4
* Intensity @ >90%

Look pretty simple doesn’t it?  I like that the distances aren’t that long which shifts our focus to acceleration rather than top end speed.

That piece of information at the bottom with the asterisk however is vital. Intensity is where most players and coaches fail when it comes time to improve running velocities.  Their training sessions aren’t intense enough to make improvements.

Are your workout’s intense enough?

The firs thing we need to do is make sure our definition of “Intensity” is the same.  In the world of exercise science the word intensity is used to define how hard you are working compared to your all out 100% effort.  If in the gym your max squat is 200lbs you would need to be lifting 180lbs or more to be in the >90% range.

Outside of the exercise science world the term intensity can used to describe anything that is hard.  If you did 50 squats with 150 lbs I bet you would call that intense because you might of passed out or threw up. But just because something is hard doesn’t make it intense.


That weight on the bar might only be 50% of his max but I bet he would say that it was an “intense” workout.  He would be wrong.

For me as the coach the only way I know if that workout was “intense” enough is to look at how fast your ran each sprint to see if it was above that 90% mark compared to that athletes 100% that was established during testing.

This table shows individual sprint times for five 20 yard sprints.  You will notice how the times get slower and slower to the point that the average time falls below the 90% intensity mark that we need to improve sprinting speed.

Sprint # Time Intensity
1 3 100
2 3.25 92
3 3.5 85
4 3.75 80
5 4 75
Avg 3.5 86.4

This is only for 5 sprints.  You can bet that the times would keep getting slower and slower.

Why is Intensity So important?

The principals of improving velocity whether it is throwing or running speed are the same when it comes to the level of intensity needed to make improvements.

In the throwing industry we usually refer to intensity with the word intent.

Great pitching/throwing coaches like Kyle Boddy, Alan Jaeger and Lantz Wheeler stress the importance of having the intent to throw hard.  Without enough intensity/intent your body isn’t forced to make the necessary improvements (i.e improved mechanics, muscular recruitment, stretch shortening cycle) need to help you throw harder.

The problem with running is that it is very hard on the body.  It is extremely taxing on our nervous system, muscular system, metabolic system and pretty much every system in the body.  This means that it is going to take a lot longer to recover between reps than throwing does.  If we were to count sprinting in terms of the number of strides we took versus the number of sprints we performed we could then more closely compare it to throwing.

If you don’t rest long enough you aren’t physically able to run at a fastest enough speed to be considered >90% no matter how hard you are trying.  Even if you are giving 100% effort it doesn’t mean that you are getting faster.  It means that you are getting better at running “kind of fast” which doesn’t help you on the field in a game.  In fact it could make you slower and increase your chances of getting hurt which happens a lot when you try to run fast when you are too tired.

Slow Down to Go Fast!!!

Sounds stupid doesn’t it.  But again we are talking the rest in between sprints.

slow down

In most team sports coaches won’t give their players enough rest between sprints because they either want to get done them quickly because there are so many other things that they want to work on like hitting and fielding.  Then there are times when coaches want to make things more “intense” and run their players through hard sprinting sessions.

Here is a complete table of the sprinting workout which this time includes rest periods.

Yards Reps Rest
10 4 60 sec
15 4 90 sec
20 4 120 sec

This whole workout will take just under 30 minutes following a good warm up and its best to do this when your players are both mentally and physically fresh.

The good news is that you only do this type of workout twice a week but that still might take too much time out of a practice schedule for some coaches.  In the next article you will see a couple of suggestions of how to integrate it into a practice plan but I wanted to touch on another important factor, volume.

Don’t Turn That Volume Up Too High!!

The volume is the total number of yards that you run in any given workout.  In the workout above you a run a total of 180 yards ([10×4]+[15×4]+[20×4]=180).

More doesn’t always mean better!!

You can go higher than this but just know if you increase the volume you increase the amount of time it takes to recover between workouts.  We will start to add volume each week but we do this gradually so that the body has time to adapt.  The same thing goes with your arm.  If you throw a ton (i.e pitching in a game) you need more time to rest then you would if you only played catch with a bit of long toss.



You need to look not only at the volume within a workout but within a week.  Don’t do a bunch sprint training the day after double header – this cumulative volume will be too much which can put your players at risk

Here is a complete 4 week sprint training program.  Be sure to separate these training sessions by at least 48 hours.

Day 1
Distance Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Yards Reps Reps Reps Reps Rest (sec)
10 4 5 5 5 60
15 4 4 5 5 90
20 4 4 4 5 120
Day 2
Distance Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Yards Reps Reps Reps Reps Rest (sec)
10 3 4 4 4 60
15 3 3 4 4 90
20 3 3 3 4 120


I hope you found this both informative and useful.  The next two parts will be up soon so that you can implement this type of training into your baseball practices.

Graeme Lehman, MSc, CSCS












Building Baseball Speed – Part 1

I have been addicted to watching every Statcast video on I can get my hands on.  The combination of highlight reel plays coupled with the athletic stats these big league athletes produce has me hooked!!


The videos that I love the most are when they show you how fast these guys can run, both offensively and defensively.  Seeing the stats like speed, time, acceleration and distance has me really excited as a baseball fan and coach.

These kinds of stats can serve as goals for young player to strive towards reaching.  Coaches can use this type of information to help develop better training programs and practices drills to increase speed so that players can reach the next level.

Helping you players get faster will be the focus of this series of articles geared towards developing big league speed.  Here are the topics that I will cover in this 3 part series.

  1. How fast are the big league guys and how do you compare?

  2. What kind of training should you be doing to get faster?

  3. What are some cues and drills that can improve your running mechanics?

Recently I have started to consult remotely with a college baseball team and this was one area that I was asked to help improve with their players.  Since I am not a sprinting expert I wanted to use this as an opportunity to learn as much as I can and then try to teach it in a practical manner. By the way if are interested in having me help you out with your team (or individuals) let me know contact me at

How fast are these guys?

The short answer is that these guys are fast, really fast!!!  This is no big surprise but what I really like about these Statcast videos is that is shows how quickly these athletes get going over these relatively short distances.  When I say “relatively short” I am comparing these distances to the 60 yards that baseball uses to tests its players.

One of the longer distances that I have seen all year is when Blue Jays second baseman Ryan Goines covered 125 feet in foul territory into shallow right field.

Goins 40 Yard Dash


This long run is just little bit more than 40 yards which again demonstrates why we need to focus on developing acceleration when it comes to producing better baseball athletes.  I’ve written many times about acceleration and its importance and how we need to at the very least adapt the 60 yard dash in order to make it a more valuable evaluation tool.

I could rant on all day about this kind of stuff so I will stop there and show you some of the speeds, distances, times and accelerations from some of the MLB’s best and fastest players.

Offensive Speed


Player Max Speed Time Accel Play
D. Gordon 20.6 14.3 sec 7.5 Inside the Park
M. Trout 20.6 NA 9.34 stolen base
B. Buxton 21.4 11.3 NA Triple
G. Springer 21.4 6.89 NA Second to home
B. Hamilton 22.3 3.05 NA Drag Bunt

Video link – Blazing Up the Basepaths

Defensive Speed

Here are the athletic stats from some of the quickest and fastest defenders in the league.  I’ve added links for each one of these plays in case you want to see what these stats look like in a real game situation.  Speed is measured in miles per hour (mph) and distance is feet.


Player Max Speed Distance Position Play
K.Pillar 19.1 73 CF Right-Center Gap
A. Simmons 14.5 NA SS GB in the 5.5 Hole
C. Correa 14.9 71.2 SS Shallow center
D. Gregorius 14.2 24.67 SS GB in the 5.5 Hole
M. Trout 19.7 76.6 CF Left Center Gap
B. Hamilton 23.3 76 CF Shallow center

This type of information is great but if we are going to use it as measuring stick we have to know what these numbers mean so that we can test ourselves.

Are You a Fast Runner?  

Very few people play in a league where they can get this type of feed back that Statcast provides during actual games.  So for the rest of us non-MLB players we are going to have use the speeds that we get from athletic testing like the 60 yard dash and hopefully shorter distances like the 10 and/or 30 yard dash.

Here are some sprint (10 yard dash times) taken during tests rather than games so we can compare apples to apples.  I got these from my Wanna Get Drafted Out of High School and Wanna Get Drafted Out of College Articles.

Pro Players 20-22
Time (sec) Speed (m/s) Kinetic Energy (J)
10 Yard Dash 1.63 5.61 1414.91
Pro Players 16-19
Time (sec) Speed (m/s) Kinetic Energy (J)
10 Yard Dash 1.65 5.54 13171.6

The problem with shorter sprints is that they are harder to accurately measure with just a stop watch, the margin for error is just too high.  Recently I have been using the slow motion capability of my iPhone and an app that tells me the exact time between specific frames. By measuring the number of frames it takes the player to go from the “starting frame” when they make their first movement to the “finish frame” when the first part of their body passes through two cones you can get an exact time at any distance.

I recommend doing a 10, 30 and 60 yard dash. Below are some charts that show you how fast you are going in miles per hour (mph) based on your times.

Speed Charts (average mph)
10 Yard Dash 30 Yard Dash 60 Yard Dash
Time mph Time mph Time mph
1.0 20.4 3.0 20.4 6.0 20.4
1.1 18.6 3.1 19.8 6.1 20.1
1.2 17.0 3.2 19.2 6.2 19.8
1.3 15.7 3.3 18.6 6.3 19.5
1.4 14.6 3.4 18.0 6.4 19.2
1.5 13.6 3.5 17.5 6.5 18.9
1.6 12.8 3.6 17.0 6.6 18.6
1.7 12.0 3.7 16.6 6.7 18.3
1.8 11.4 3.8 16.1 6.8 18.0
1.9 10.8 3.9 15.7 6.9 17.8
2.0 10.2 4.0 15.3 7.0 17.5
2.1 9.7 4.1 15.0 7.1 17.3
2.2 9.3 4.2 14.6 7.2 17.0
2.3 8.9 4.3 14.3 7.3 16.8
2.4 8.5 4.4 13.9 7.4 16.6
2.5 8.2 4.5 13.6 7.5 16.3
2.6 7.9 4.6 13.3 7.6 16.1

The speeds you are seeing here are “Average Velocity” which is very different from “Max Velocity” that we see in the Statcast videos.

To give you an idea of the difference between Max and Avg velocity let’s look at the fastest man on the earth, Usain Bolt.  This guy can go 100 meters in 9.58 seconds which gives him an average velocity of  23.34 mph>  He obviously isn’t going this fast for the first part of the race when he is accelerating but once he does get up to speed roughly between the 60 and 80 meter mark he is going 27.78 mph.


Much less than 23.34 mph

top speed

Top Speed of 27.78 mph

If you look at this video of Billy Hamilton you will see how and when he reaches his top speed of 23.3 MPH just before starting to dive head first for that ball that was only 76 feet away.  I will touch on acceleration and how they measure it later in this series.

Here is a look at the differences between average and max velocities of the base runners seen in the video above.

Running Velocity (mph)
Player Max Avg
D. Gordon 20.6 19.0
B.Buxton 21.4 18.0
G. Springer 21.4 16.0
B. Hamilton 22.3 20.1

*to see how I came up with these numbers go to the end of this article*

What’s Your Max Speed?

The easy and somewhat accurate way of doing this would be by subtracting your 30 yard dash time from your 60 yard dash time to see how long it took you to cover those last 30 yards once you built up some speed.  This only gives you your average time for those last 30 yards but its better than nothing.

The more baseball specific way would be to subtract your 10 yard time from your 30 yard time because this is a much more realistic distance that a player might have to cover.

An even better way would be to use I described above with the iPhone can a couple of cones about 10 feet apart towards the end of the 60 yard dash you could get a pretty close idea of your Max Speed.

Are you a Powerful Runner?

Power is your combination of size and speed and in baseball this vitally important. Being really fast is great but in order to hit and throw hard it really helps to have high levels of body weight (ideally in the form of muscle).  The players that I have selected here are some of the lighter players in the league which is part of the reason that they can produce these high speeds since they don’t have to bring much body weight with them.  Sprinting speed is all about relative strength.  How strong are you relative to your body weight.

When it comes to throwing and hitting we are more concerned with a term called absolute strength/power where we combine the speed and size to get power in the form of Kinetic Energy (KE) which is measured in Joules (J).

Here are some of the power numbers that these base runners produced and if you scroll back up you can see the power that pro players between the age of 16 & 22 produced during testing.

Powerful Runners
Player lbs m/s KE
D. Gordon 170 8.5 2793.77
B.Buxton 190 8.07 2812.77
G. Springer 215 7.17 2511.89
B. Hamilton 160 8.98 2934.73


Check out this table below to get an idea of how much power you can produce at various body weights if you could run a 10 yard dash in 1.75 seconds.

Ten Yard Dash of 1.75 sec
9.14 meters/1.75 sec = 5.22 m/s
Weight (lbs) Power (KE)
150 928.92
160 990.85
170 1052.78
180 1114.71
190 1176.64
200 1238.56
210 1300.49
220 1362.42

By now you should have a pretty good idea of the speed and size of professional players.  Now you should figure out just how fast you can get going then doing a couple of easy calculations to see what kind of power you can produce.  I’ve provided you with the information that you need to calculate power at the end of this article.

Once you figure this out you have your “Point A” and if you want to play big league baseball the numbers you see above can serve as your “Point B”.


The next couple of articles will be aimed at providing you with the kind of information that you need to help you get from Point A to Point B.

Graeme Lehman, MSc, CSCS


How I got some of these numbers

To get the average speed of the MLB players running on the basepaths I just divded their distance by their time.  The time was provided for me on Statcast but to get the distance I had to do some research because we all know that you run further than the 90 feet between the base’s.

This site posted a figure of 133 yards compared to the 120 yards it would be if you went in straight lines with 90 degree turns.  So I just used this figure (133 yards) for any of the runs that were more than one base.  For a triple I took 3/4 of that distance and for George Springer scoring from second I took half of that number but subtracted the 18 foot lead he had.




To get your power in the form of Kinetic Energy all you need to know is your speed in meter per second (m/s) and your weight in kilograms (take you weight in pounds and divide it by 2.2)

Let’s say you ran a 10 yard dash 1.7 seconds and weighed 185 lbs.

This works out to 5.4 m/s and 84 kg

Kinetic Energy = (5.4*5.4)*(84/2)





Big League Combine – Player Selection

This article is a follow up to my most popular article of all time where I describe the athletic tests that I think should be included into a combine for baseball players.  You can read it here

Since the time I published that article I have had a lot of conversations with coaches (both strength and baseball coaches) from all over the place and I get asked what I would do with the results of these tests in two different situations:

1 – Selection of players:  How can I use these numbers to help scout players and get an idea of their ability to play at the next level

2 – Training current players: What do the results of each test tell us about what this player needs to work on in order to reach the next level.

I am going to try to answer these two questions as best I can without giving away all of my trade secrets in what is looking like a three part series.

Player selection – scouting and tryouts

The first step is to obviously run all of the players through the combine that I described in the first article.  It gives us great deal of information about a bunch of different athletic qualities rather than just straight ahead speed like the 60 yard dash does.  There would be some more tests/assessments that I would do but I will get to those later.  My reason for not including these new tests in the previous article is that they either didn’t fit the criteria of being easy to implement or they are something I didn’t think of until after I wrote that article back in the summer of 2013.  I’ve learnt a lot since then but I do stand behind all of the tests that I picked.

We have all these numbers, now what??

After you run your players through these tests you’re just left with a bunch of numbers.  The good news is that these numbers actually mean something since each test was picked based on the fact that it has some correlation to the kind of athletic ability needed to play baseball, read the original article if you don’t believe me.  While these numbers are great they just really give scouts and coaches the ability to rank players based on their athletic ability.  But since we are trying to put together a baseball team and not a track and field squad we can’t base our entire selection on these performance based tests.  You need some skill to go along with this ability.

What these tests do provide are some quantifiable and objective numbers that can be combined with the scouts subjective assessment of their ability to play baseball in order to make a better decision.  Click here to see some of the quantifiable numbers that player who have been drafted out of high school or who got signed internally can produce.

sub vs ob

Ideally we want to have players with a lot of physical ability (objective) that also have a lot of skill (subjective).  Not everyone is going to have a lot of both but if you want to play baseball at a high level you’re going to need a combination of skill and ability.

To illustrate this point I’ve created this chart to show how a player needs both skill and ability to make it to the major league level, which I have arbitrarily set at the 300 mark. 

pitching chart 2.002

Each player has both skill (green) and ability (blue) but you can’t make it to the show with just one because I have also set a limit of 200 that you can get from either skill or ability.  This means that you need to sure up your weakness in order for you to display your strength.

The two guys in the minors need to work on their respective areas of weakness to make it to the majors.  The AAA “pitcher” knows how to pitch and has a complete arsenal of pitches but just doesn’t throw hard enough to compete.  This guy needs to improve physically with a good weight training program coupled with some better rest, nutrition along with a throwing program that is going to help him throw harder.

The guy in AA needs a change up or something else to go along with the blazing fastball.  The ability to locate this fastball would be helpful too.

So who do you pick??

Do you pick the skilled player or the athlete with lots of physical ability?

Scouts and coaches every year have players that they are high on and like in regards to their make up and how they play the game.  But they are forced to pass on them because they know this player doesn’t have enough power to keep up at the highest levels.  After all you can’t teach speed and you can’t teach size, right?  I think you can.

Historically baseball teams have selected players because they have some raw athletic power and physical ability in hopes that their coaching staff can teach them how to pitch or hit.  These players are then labelled as “projects” and sometimes they work out and sometimes they don’t.

I am going to make an argument that we can go after that skilled player and train them to be better athletes.  You would think that as a strength coach I would want the super athletes but baseball is so highly dependant on skill that I think some of these guys are worth the chance of becoming a project.  Because as tough as it is to teach size and speed its not easy to teach someone how to locate a change up with movement.

This is especially true if a player shows that they have room for improvement from the physical side of things which when coupled with time and effort can allow these changes to occur.

Below is the ideal situation of a highly skilled pitcher that has been through 4 years of executing both a tailored weight training and a throwing program (long toss, weight balls, etc) that suits his needs as an athlete.  This SMART and HARD training has provided him with the ability to throw harder so that he can display his skills in the MLB.   I understand that this idea isn’t anything new but I think that it could happen more often if a player has the room for growth and is given the necessary tools and knowledge to improve.  This is where the initial testing comes into play.

pitching chart 2.001

*Disclaimer:  Even the best strength training in the world won’t turn a non-athlete into a world class baseball player.  We are looking at taking someone from good to great not taking someone from bad to great.  The great news is that a lot of teams might pass on the “good” player leaving him available.

Undersized and Underpowered???

Any player that isn’t athletic enough to play at the next level is always lacking power since it is the number #1 athletic quality needed to succeed in baseball.  If they are lacking power then they are either not producing enough speed or strength since the basic formula for power is:


This formula looks pretty cut and dry but there are different combinations of athletic ability and physical features that can produce big league power.  Some athletes rely more on the force side of the equation because they have a lot of strength and body weight.  While other use more of the lean on velocity side of things with their long limbs, big ranges of motion and their reactive strength vis stretch shortening cycles to produce whatever power they can.sanchez storman

If we look at the Blue Jays pitching staff for example two
of their brightest stars are Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez.  Both of whom can throw really hard but go about it in different ways.

From this example we can determine that these two players use very different combinations of strength/force and speed/velocity to produce power in the form of throwing velocity. This means that we can look for these different combinations by studying their athletic profiles which is something that I produce based on all of the tests that I run baseball players through.race car one

This athletic profile is similar to what you would see in a
car racing video game.  These two cars are different in regards to the specific amounts of power, weight and grip they have but both are capable of going fast and winning races.

They just have car 2different strength’s and weakness’ and it really depends on how you drive the car which determines if you can take advantage of the strengths while minimizing the weakness’s.

The athletic profiles that I created below are those of what I imagined both Aaron’s and Marcus’ would have looked like when they were being scouted in high school.

I will get into some of the various tests that I would add like limb length, mobility and elastic energy but for now we can just see that there are many different athletic qualities that need to be observed.  If all we did was measure the 60 yard dash to determine athletic ability we would only really have “speed” and “elastic energy” to go off of.

Aaron Sanchez 

pitching chart 2.003

While this would be a profile of a shorter more athletic Marcus Stroman.  As you can see they are very different from one another but they both work.

Marcus Stroman

pitching chart 2.004

*I know that these profiles aren’t exact and there are many arguments that could be made but my point is to look at players with different combinations of athletic ability and how they can ultimately produce the same end result of throwing really really hard even if they don’t fit the prototypical “profile”

Next I’ll explore explore both force and velocity individually a bit more and provide some examples of further tests to see if an athlete can make some improvements in these areas.

Graeme Lehman


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