Genetics play a big part in both your physical size and shape. To a certain extent they also help decide how much speed you have. A 6-foot-2 solidly built 225-1b. catcher in high school, who currently runs a 7.6 second 60-yard dash isn’t going to become a 6.5 sprinter by doing a few exercises. You either have a predisposition to speed, or you don’t. But don’t get discouraged. Everyone can show some improvement in their basic skill levels by taking part in a comprehensive, well designed program that maximizes his basic genetic inheritance. A minimum of a mere 5% improvement in basic speed levels could make the difference between whether you get a college scholarship or the attention of professional scouts. Almost everyone, with the exception of already highly fine-tuned and well-trained athletes, can achieve this 5% improvement. Let’s take a look and see what a 5% improvement might do to various skill levels.
Speed is very important to most top college programs and of utmost importance to major league clubs. Major league teams realize that sometimes a little extra speed makes the difference between catching a long fly ball, or beating out an infield grounder. The average major league runner does the 60-yard dash in around 6.9 or 7 seconds. Keep in mind, however, that’s the average major leaguer. You will want to run a 6.6 sixty to really get looked at.
Perhaps you are running a 6.9 sixty and playing centerfield. This isn’t bad. You are running at the major league average, but it isn’t at a speed that is really going to get you noticed. You begin a comprehensive running program that is designed to increase your stride length and stride rate. Let’s say that working diligently on this program smooths out your running mechanics and gains you a 5% improvement in your 60-yard dash speed. Suddenly, your okay 6.9 is an attention-grabbing 6.55. At 6.5 seconds, colleges and the pros will notice you. Only a 5% improvement, but a major difference. The same holds true for home-to-first times. A 5% improvement here often means the difference between beating out a ground ball or not. A good 4.2 time from the left side of the plate becomes a sub-4 second time.
What about bat speed? As most hitters realize, bat speed is very important. An interesting fact is that a ball stays on a bat only about l/lOOOth of a second. When a ball only spends that much time on a bat, you can see how important it is to generate as much power when you swing as possible.
A hitter is facing a pitcher throwing an 85 mph fastball and the centerfield fence is 400 feet away. The hitter has a bat speed of 70 mph. The batter swings and connects well. With this bat speed and the pitch coming in at 85 mph, the ball will end up being caught by the center fielder.
Let’s assume the hitter works to increase his bat speed by only 5% to 73.5 mph. All things being equal, the next time he meets this 85 mph pitcher, and hits it well, the ball will go over the fence . The 5% improvement meant the difference between a long fly out, and a home run.
The average high school player should be able to improve his bat speed with a comprehensive program by a minimum of 10%.
What about throwing power? If you are a good high school left-handed pitcher throwing 83-84 MPH, you probably have potential to play at college somewhere. Would a major Division I college or a professional scout be interested in you? Probably not, unless they saw a very high ceiling, or could fix a couple of obvious mechanical flaws in your delivery. If you go on a concentrated program to increase velocity and you gain roughly 5% in velocity, what does this do for you?
If you are throwing consistently at 83-84 MPH and you increase this by 5%, your velocity then becomes 87-88 MPH. Suddenly you’ve taken yourself from a small college prospect to a Division I prospect. There are a few top-30 college lefties that are successfully pitching in Division I at 83 or 84 MPH, but they have great movement and off-speed pitches. A 5% improvement in velocity would make a difference - although harder to achieve than a 5% improvement in bat speed, it is achievable by most athletes who spend the necessary time on it.
None of this is magic, but only a minor improvement could make a tremendous difference in your success as a ballplayer. Little things, little differences, and little improvements in velocity or speed can make all the difference in the world. It will take effort, but if you achieve that magic 5% improvement, it will be well worth it.
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