The new and improved 60 yard dash
Baseball is a game steeped in great traditions but our means of evaluating a baseball player’s athletic ability by having them run 60 yards in a straight line is one tradition that we should change.
The reason for improving the 60 yard dash is that it is not very specific to the game of baseball. When do you ever run 60 yards in a straight line? The base’s are only 90feet/30yards apart and if you are an outfielder and have to run 60 yards in a straight line to chase a ball down the gap or the line you might want question how you are positioned.
The only time I have ever seen a straight 60 yard dash at the park is in Washington or Milwaukee and even this was between innings.
Agility vs. Speed
Baseball is a game that is built of very short bursts of activity which places a more emphasis on acceleration and agility than it does top end speed. Agility is listed as one of the 5 tools that a baseball athlete needs in order reach the next level.
A recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning by Priest et al. (2011) used a 60 yard agility test called the JJ Shuttle as part of the tryouts for an NCAA II baseball team. I liked the study but found that their test had too many stop and go’s (4 change of directions) which didn’t mimic a baseball game unless you are caught in a run down against a little league team.
My version of a new sixty is going to blend of sprinting and agility to get the best of both worlds while still totalling the traditional 60 yards.
Here is how to set it up:
Pick a start line and set cones at the following yard marks:
- 20 yard mark
- 25 yard mark
- 50 yard mark
To complete the test:
- Sprint the second cone (25 yard)
- Change direction and go back the first cone (20 yard mark)
- Change direction and sprint to the final cone (50 yard mark)
This will total 60 yards which should keep the traditionalists happy but will give you not only speed but change of direction, deceleration and most importantly acceleration measures.
In baseball terms you can think of breaking early at first base in order to get picked off. Your first sprint causes the defence to make the first throw from the first baseman you change directions and head back to first hard which draws a long throw from the middle infield at which point you change directions and head into second base hard. The distances are little off but you get the idea.
Don’t Forget Power
The study that I mentioned did however account for the weight of each player and measured what they call the K-Factor (kinetic factor) which is based on a combination each athletes weight and speed. A 200lbs player who can run 7.5 sec is going to have a higher k-factor and more power than a 150lbs player that gets a faster time of 7.2 seconds.
Of the top 10 times recorded in the study only one was a pitcher while no catchers made the list which is no real surprise. However 6 of the top 10 highest K-Factor scores were produced my catchers or pitchers. This kinetic/power score is more important if you are a pitcher, catcher, and corner infielder because your game is going to be built on how much force you can produce and transfer to the ball through your arm or your bat. Middle infielders and outfielders will need pure speed. Regardless to make it to higher levels of baseball you need to be both big and fast so keep track of both your size and speed. If you can gain 10lbs and still be just as fast you will improve your power.
Graeme Lehman, MSc©, CSCS
Priest, JW, Jones, JN, Conger, B, and Marble, DK. Performance measures of NCAA baseball tryouts obtained from the new 60-yd run-shuttle. J Strength Cond Res 25(10): 2872–2878, 2011