Improving Running Mechanics in 10U Baseball
By Eric Telly, Landow Performance
In an attempt to better serve the coaches, players, and parents involved in youth and high school baseball, the PBSCCS periodically publishes information on factors that can affect conditioning and performance at these levels. Topics are selected from questions submitted by participants, coaches and parents involved in youth and high school sports.
The question for this posting was from the coach of a 10U baseball team who said – “After watching my 10U baseball team practice for several sessions, it has become apparent that several of the boys have poor running mechanics. Are they any simple drills that I can incorporate in the team warm-up or workout that will help improve running mechanics and speed?”
- Have the team skip. Skipping reinforces the coordinated actions of the lower and upper body. Keep the emphasis on rhythm. Watch them skip and offer only essential advice, e.g., tell them to keep their head still and look at the finish line, move their arms front and back from the shoulders or put more force into the ground. A skip is a “step and a hop”. Start short to long. Skip only 20-yards. Don’t ask them to skip so far that their technique breaks down. Gradually progress to longer distances or skip faster or higher after technique improves, but don’t increase two things at once. That is, don’t skip longer and faster or longer and higher at the same time.
- Line them up and have them race for 20-30 yards. Let them see who is fast, how they compare to their teammates, and how the faster players run. Show them how to put one foot forward and position their arms opposite their legs in the starting position and then let them run. Don’t over emphasize body lean or anything else. Just let them run. They will get faster and their mechanics will improve somewhat by running all-out. Regardless of age or sport, athletes have to run fast to get faster. If there is a glaring issue of course address it, but don’t give the kids too much to think about.
- Teach them how to stop. Deceleration is an important part of all sports. Have they run 5 yards, breakdown, drop their butts, and put their hands down between their knees as if they were setting up to fielding a ground ball. I wouldn’t worry about having them go hands to the ground in this particular drill only because we want to work on their ability to bend at the hips, knees, and ankles. Emphasize stopping under control in an athletic position. Start with a jog and gradually increase speed as they develop the ability to stop quickly and under control.
This should be all they need at ages 9 and 10. Later teach them how to backpedal then how to turn to the right and left while backpedaling at slow then faster speeds. Finally, teach them how to run backwards at slow then faster speeds and eventually turn right and left on command.