How to Improve Speed in Youth Baseball – Part II
By Gene Coleman, Ed. D., RSCC*E, FACSM
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.
In a previous post, PBSCCS responded to a question from a parent who wanted to
know how to improve speed in 12U and 13U players. Part I discussed the importance of
proper running mechanics. http://baseballstrength.org/improving-speed-in-youth-
baseball-by-jose-vazquez-and-gene-coleman-texas-rangers/. Part II will discuss on how
strength training can be used to improve running speed and athletic performance.
In order to become faster and enhance sports performance, players must improve
running mechanics and strength. Both are essential and neither is totally effective
without the other. Fast athletes are strong. There are no weak, fast athletes. Research
shows that the fastest athletes apply more force to the ground when running, jumping
and throwing than slower athletes. It also shows that it’s not only how much force you
can produce, but how fast you can generate force and how well you can apply it in the
right direction that determines performance. The three takeaways from the research
are: 1) you have to apply a lot of force to the ground; 2) you have to apply force quickly;
and 3) you have to apply force in the right direction, i.e., at the proper angles in order to
maximize running speed and sports performance.
While many in the college and pro ranks have found that high-intensity explosive
resistance training exercises like Olympic lifts, power cleans, etc. are effective for elite
college and professional athletes, these lifts are not appropriate for youth athletes due
to the complex nature of the movements, intensity of the effort and lack of training
background of most young athletes. When introducing young athletes to resistance
training, the exercises used should be those that improve the movements required for
effective performance in practice and game situations. The goal is to improve
movement, not improve muscles.
While the specific exercises selected for youth athletes will differ significantly from those
used with college and professional athletes, the basic movement patterns will be similar.
For effective performance athletes of all age should be able to perform the basic
movement patterns that require them to: 1) push, 2) pull, 3) hinge, 4) squat and 5)
stabilize the core.