Speed School: 10 Drills You Can Do At Home to Get Faster
If you guys have been following me through this quarantine, you might have seen that I did a session in the Packaged Deal's Softball School centered around speed drills you can do while spending some time at home. I had an absolute blast doing it. Even though some people weren't able to tune into that, I have gotten a few inquiries from college and high school softball players on how to improve speed, so I wanted to put this blog together.
I wrote on speed fundamentals a while back, covering why every single softball player needs it. You can read that here. Basically, we're looking at one equation here. Power = force x velocity. Softball is a power sport, period. Short bursts of energy followed my rest periods in all facets of the game including pitching, hitting, and position play. Every softball player needs power. We get power from increase force (strength) and velocity (speed). We have to have both. Every softball player needs power, therefore every softball player needs STRENGTH AND SPEED. To get stronger you lift weights, common sense. So how the heck do you get faster?
Let's not make this complicated. It's also common sense. To get faster we have to run fast. We have to sprint and we have to sprint consistently. Interestingly, we can maintain strength and endurance for up to 30 days after training. Speed however, starts to deteriorate after 5 days. Meaning if we aren't running at maximal effort AT LEAST once a week, biologically we are getting slower. We DO NOT want to play our next softball game, whenever that may be, slower. No, we want to be FASTER. We want to come out in attack mode after this pandemic subsides.
Here are some drills you can do RIGHT NOW, within as little space as 10-20 yards to get faster so you can get back on the field being the most powerful softball player you can be. All the drills are linked to video demonstrations and offer a brief description of cues for the exercise.
SL RDL to Wall Drive I love this drill as a warm up for working on my first step. It overloads and activates the hamstring while still allowing me to be explosive, focusing on ripping my leg forward!
Wall Sprints These are great if you want to sprint but you have limited space. It also is the perfect drill for proper acceleration mechanics. Have your body set up at roughly a 45 degree angle and have a sturdy wall.
Fast Claw is one of my favorite drills for max velocity sprint work. Acceleration is the first few steps, max velocity is when we are at top end speed (example: If I hit a double or triple, my posture will change). Focus here is on quick turnover of the legs and a tight core. Each rep is at max effort!
SL Hops w/ Knee Drive A perfect warm up drill for max velocity training. Focus on minimal ground contact time and driving the knee up while keeping the core active. Set up the cones roughly 3-5 steps apart.
Lateral High Knee Skips Let's face it, softball is played in multiple directions, therefore, we need speed in multiple directions. This drill incorporates all of what we have been talking about but in a lateral fashion. A great drill to do before a base running session at practice!
Skips for Height A basic drill for working on pushing into the ground to create more power with every step. Great to incorporate into your warm ups if you are just starting to work on sprint mechanics. Jump as high as you can and pull the knee up to 90 degrees.
Skips for Distance The same philosophy as skips for height but skips for distance add a little bit more specific explosion to speed training, in particular the first step. Drive the foot into the ground and jump as far out as you can with each skip.
HK Starts: Linear If you want to be a better base stealer and runner in general, this is a drill for you. The half-kneeling start forces us to create more power and explosion on our first step and allows us to get into proper acceleration mechanics. Try these off both legs and sprint about 10-20 yards with each. 2-3 each leg should do the trick at the end of a dynamic warm up.
HK Starts: Lateral Again, reiterating the fact that softball is a multi-directional sport. Same as the half-kneeling linear starts, we are just sprinting from a side half-kneeling stance here. A great way to improve your defensive first step as well as your reaction off of a base lead.
Reverse Start Sprints Outties stand up here! This is an incredible speed drill to improve your first step defensively by forcing you to pivot your hips 180 degrees and accelerate quickly. Again shoot for 10-20 yards and do an even amount on both sides. I usually shoot for anywhere between 3-5 per side in my outfield warm up. Infielders, if you need to work on going back on the ball, you can definitely do these too, I just think outfielders are cooler.
Give these drills a try at any time after a warm up before your softball practice or weight regimen. Remember the only way to get faster is to actually SPRINT. Speed drills are great, but you only get out of them what you put into them.
Go get it speed demons.