Youth baseball coaches spend a lot of practice time focusing on batting, throwing, and fielding skills. Speed training often consists of just having the kids run the bases as fast as they can a few times. Coaches that take the time to work with their players on their base-running speed will make their teams more competitive.
Here are some specific tips to use to help your players run faster. Working with each player individually to help him increase his speed will have the most benefit, as each player will need different improvements.
1. Arm position. The runner’s arm position should be close to the body at a 90 degree angle and about waist high. As the player runs, the arms should be moving front to back. Sideways movements will slow the runner down. The shoulders and hands should be relaxed. Have players practice the correct movements in slow motion until they develop the appropriate muscle memory.
2. Focus. The runner should be looking at his destination, not at the ground in front of him. For baseball players this means the next base. However, the player does need to be aware of what’s going on around him, so he doesn’t get tagged on the baseline or run into another player.
3. Foot position. Keep runners OFF their heels. The proper foot position for the fastest speed is to land on the ball of the foot and push off, rolling forward to the toes. Professional running shoes have the cleats only on the front of the shoe, because this is where a runner’s power comes from.
If a coach spends a few minutes every practice working with his players on their running form, his team will be faster overall. And a faster team wins more baseball games!