Speed kills, so naturally, the 60-yard dash is one of the first metrics college and professional scouts look at when evaluating a player. A good 60-yard dash time can quickly set a player apart and catch the attention of a scout (read our article on 6 Tips to Quickly Improve Your 60).
A sub-7.0 second 60-yard dash time is considered above average speed at the college and pro level. For center fielders and middle infielders, scouts may look for times under 6.7 seconds, while with corner infielders/outfielders and catchers, a time under 7.3 seconds is ideal.
A good 60-yard dash time comes with many caveats such as a player’s position, age, and other skills. Although many big league players have had hall-of-fame careers with below-average speed, the 60-yard dash is possibly the most measurable tool scouts can evaluate on a player, and the reason players should expect to run a 60-yard dash at any prospect camp they attend.
A Further Breakdown of 60 Yard Dash Times by Position
The chart below is representative of 60-yard dash times by position at the professional/D1 college level. Younger players should use these as benchmarks and times to work toward as they progress in their careers.
|< 6.4 seconds||Elite|
|6.4 – 6.5 seconds||Above Average||Elite|
|6.6 – 6.7 seconds||Average||Above Average||Elite|
|6.8 – 6.9 seconds||Below Average||Average||Above Average||Elite|
|7.0 – 7.1 seconds||Poor||Below Average||Average||Above Average|
|7.1 – 7.2 seconds||Poor||Below Average||Average|
|7.3 – 7.4 seconds||Poor||Below Average|
|> 7.4 seconds||Poor|
Why Do Baseball Players run the 60-Yard Dash?
The bases on a full-sized baseball field are 90 feet or 30 yards apart. Therefore in situations when a player is running from home plate to second base, first base to third base, or second base to home plate, the player is covering 180 feet, or 60 yards. So the 60-yard dash is meant to represent this common distance that players sprint during games.
There are also situations, most commonly on fly balls, where players will need to run distances similar to 60 yards to run down a fly ball. For this reason, 60-yard dash times are especially important for outfielders and middle infielders.
An ongoing debate is that baseball players are more frequently running shorter distances on the field and on the base paths, and therefore a shorter distance would be a more relevant benchmark. Scouts will usually measure a player’s “home to first” time for this reason, which is another important metric for player’s to be aware of. “Home to first” times are recorded in game, from the point the batter makes contact with the ball to the moment they touch first base. In general, a sub 4.3 second “home to first” time is considered average, and sub 4.0 seconds is considered fast.
How Important is the 60 Yard Dash?
The 60-yard dash is often the first event at any showcase or pro day. It is not necessarily the most important factor or tool of a player, but it is arguably the easiest to measure, along with exit velocity, and compare across prospects. Scouts can quickly identify elite runners and keep a closer eye on them throughout other portions of the workout.
While the 60-yard dash can certainly set you apart, it is just one of 5 tools (speed, hitting, power, fielding, and throwing) that scouts look at. The importance of speed is also weighted based on position. For example, a singles hitting center fielder should have elite speed and this would be important in the eyes of a scout, while a power hitting first baseman doesn’t necessarily need to have has much speed to succeed at the next level. To learn more, we have an article breaking down the 5 tools that scouts evaluate in more detail.
As mentioned above, scouts will also evaluate a player’s speed by their “home to first” time. They will also factor in a player’s first step, quickness, and instincts. A player may have great instincts and a quick first step on the base paths, which can make them a good base stealer, and possibly better than a player with a faster 60-yard dash time.
Whether or not the 60-yard dash is the best measurement of speed, it has been the measurement standard for decades, and likely will be for years to come. Speed may seem simple to measure, but like many sports, there are several other factors that equate to how well a player’s raw speed translates to the game.
Improving Your 60 Yard Dash Time
There are several ways to improve a player’s 60-yard dash time, and many factors that attribute to a good time. Below is a general list of resources and ideas to help improve a player’s speed and 60-yard dash time.
- Sprinting Drills – This article by nfl.com highlights three drills for improving sprinting form and technique. Geared toward the 40-yard dash for football players, but equally relevant for the 60-yard dash.
- Weight Lifting – This article by trackandfieldnews.com is a great intro to sprint-specific weight lifting designed to increase speed.
- Coaches – Working with a speed or track & field coach can yield great results in shaving down significant time off your 60-yard dash. Specialized coaches can closely evaluate your sprinting form and provide valuable feedback. Improving running form is one of the easiest and quickest ways to increase speed.
- Age – Strength and speed for younger players can be difficult to develop early in their careers. Players need time to physically mature and while form can be improved at any age, results will often be hindered by a player’s physical maturity, or lack thereof. With that said, younger players should not be discouraged when comparing their times to professional/college-age players, as age is a big factor when it comes to overall speed and strength.
- Footwear – It may sound elementary, but having the proper footwear for the conditions and surface can make an impactful difference in a player’s 60-yard dash time. When attending showcases or camps where running a 60-yard dash is likely, it is best to be prepared to run on a variety of surfaces such as grass, turf, or a track.