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Minor changes can make a major impact on a player’s 60-yard dash time. Almost every position player will run one during their recruiting process, and for some, a good 60-yard dash time can be their ticket to the next level.
Here are 6 tips that can help players shave off a couple tenths of a second off their 60-yard dash time:
- Starting in the right position, specifically the position of the feet
- Proper footwear, and preparation for the conditions and surface
- Finishing strong through the line
- Improving running form
- Practicing starting and staying low
- Running in a straight line
To significantly increase a 60-yard dash time, there are no shortcuts that will reduce a 60-yard time from 7.6 seconds to 6.8 seconds, for example. Spending time in the weight room, working with a strength and conditioning coach, and flat-out putting in the work is the only thing that will help players significantly decrease their time. However, these quick tips are great for players to fine-tune their 60-yard dash and run the fastest time possible.
1. Starting in the right position, specifically the position of the feet
It common for baseball players to start their 60-yard dashes in a similar stance as if they were on first base and leading off. Feet parallel with the starting line. While this is necessary on the base paths, players can improve their times by turning their feet slightly so they are more perpendicular to the starting line, much like a track and field sprinter. There are normally no requirements for how to start a 60-yard dash at a showcase or prospect camp, you players might as well take the slight advantage here.
By aligning the feet in the direction a player is going to run, it eliminates wasted movements and creates a more directionally efficient start. Starting with feet that are perpendicular will require turning the feet, hips, and upper body to get in line with the sprinting path. This ultimately slows down the start of the sprint. Obviously, this is necessary on the base paths because players need to be prepared to move in either direction, but it’s not necessary for a testing-type setting.
2. Proper footwear, and preparation for the conditions and surface
At showcases and prospect camps, players may run a 60-yard dash on a variety of surfaces. The most common ones are grass, artificial turf, and an indoor or outdoor track. It’s beneficial for players to research ahead of an event so they know what type of footwear to bring, and better yet, they should bring footwear for all possible surfaces. Some events may have certain requirements such as “turf shoes only” or “no metal cleats” and this is important to look out for when preparing.
In general, a lighter shoe is going to perform better, whether that’s a cleat, turf, or running shoe. Here are some of our favorites in each category:
- Baseball Metal Cleats – For grass and turf (if allowed)
- Baseball Turf Shoes – For turf and track surfaces
- Running Shoes – For track surfaces
3. Finishing strong through the line
Similarly to running to first base, lunging or leaning toward the bag, or in this case, the finish line won’t be faster. Doing so is going to impact running form and ultimately slow the runner down. The best and fastest way is to maintain running form is to run through the line completely, without worrying about leaning in or striding out to hit the line faster.
A good mental trick is to imagine the finish line 5 or 10 yards past the finish line. Players have a tendency to slow down as they get close to the finish line. This is due to a psychological block that happens because the player knows they are about to be done, so their body starts slowing down. By picturing the finish line further away, players can mentally tell themselves they need to keep running hard past the actual finish line, ensuring they are running at full speed the entire distance.
4. Improving running form
Prior to a showcase or camp, players should seek some advice from their coaches, or even the track and field coach at their school. Running form is not something that is focused on in baseball, but can be very beneficial for players to improve on.
A coach that is well-versed in proper running form can easily spot some flaws and make suggested improvements for players that can be immediately implemented. An example of this is a player might flail their arms wide when they run without realizing it. This is extra energy that is not helping the player move faster. A coach can spot this and help the player keep their arms more linear to the direction they are running.
5. Practicing starting and staying low
One of the most common flaws of baseball players when it comes to sprinting is the tendency to “pop up” immediately when they start. Whether this is stealing a base or running after a fly ball, a player’s first movement will often be to stand up taller. This movement takes time and also takes the player out of a more powerful and faster position.
An analogy used by sprinters is a start should be like a plane taking off on a runway. The player should stay low and gradually come up into their full-speed sprinting position. Picture a professional track and field sprinter, they are often not completely upright until 30 or 40 yards after the starting line.
6. Running in a straight line
This tip may sound elementary, but the fastest way from point A to point B is a straight line. Players should make sure they are not straying off to the left or right of this line. Staying on a direct line is not only the shortest distance but will also help maintain proper running form and keep all of the power output linear.
Swaying a little left or right can turn a 60-yard dash into a 63-year dash, which in an event where tenths of seconds make a big difference, this can be impactful.
Running a 60-yard dash at an event can be nerve-wracking. We recommend practicing ahead of time and preparing properly to eliminate any extra stress. If a player is prepared for it, it will help them relax with is going to translate to a faster 60-yard dash time, and hopefully more attention for scouts.