If you’re not too familiar with the sport, you might wonder why a player’s speed over this short distance is considered so important in baseball.
Although the metric equivalent of the distance – 60 metres – has only become a regular event competed at athletics meets in recent years, in baseball, the 60-yard distance carries a great deal of significance.
That’s because it is the distance a player has to cover if they are to get to second base. But more importantly in the context of baseball, this short sprint measures more than an athlete’s short-distance speed – it’s also helpful as a gauge of their reaction time and their agility.
Why Is The 60-Yard Dash So Important To Young Baseball Players?
Because sprinting speed is an attribute which a player can only show once they are off home base and are attempting to get back there, it often goes ‘under the radar’ to the spectators watching the game.
But because he has only a short timeframe in which to judge the potential of any young player, a baseball scout will try to obtain their times in the 60-yard dash – the criterion is even highlighted to young players in the official recruitment guidelines of the All-American Baseball Academy as one which they can expected to be judged against.
As these guidelines exist, and all young baseball players who aspire to play the sport at the highest level are made aware of them, the 60-yard dash has become an integral part of the training schedule for every young player.
However, the 60-yard dash isn’t only important from an offensive or batting point of view. As defensive players all the way from the middle infield right to the extreme reaches of the outfield need to be able to quickly retrieve a ball which is hit into their area of the field, it’s desirable for them to also have a good sprint time. That’s because this can help minimize the offensive team’s chances of making significant progress around the bases, and particularly, of scoring home runs.
What’s A Good Time For A 14-Year-Old To Complete The 60-Yard Dash?
A benchmark widely used to measure the potential of a baseball player as a middle infielder or an outfielder is a 60-yard time of 6.8 seconds or lower.
Catchers and corner infielders are closer to the batter, and so a time of 7.25 seconds or less to complete 60 yards is generally recognized as meeting the required standard.
What Are The Best Tips To Improve My 60-Yard Dash Time?
As with any sprint, the distance of a 60-yard race can be split into a number of phases, each of which requires a distinct skillset to perfect.
The first quarter of any sprint race is the phase over which the runner overcomes the force of gravity in order to increase their speed. This is achieved most effectively by learning forward – while this is true of every part of a sprint race, it’s most important in this early section.
The second factor to being able to consistently increase your sprint speed is obvious – it’s your stride length. Every time one of your feet hits the ground, it creates resistance, which will slow you down. So it follows that the fewer strides you need to take to complete a sprint, the faster you will get.
Practising short, sharp sprints of as little as 10 yards is also an effective way of building up your sprinting speed, as it will enable you to reach your longest stride as quickly as possible over a full 60 yards.
And of course, if you look at any top-level sprinter, you will see that they carry hardly any body fat, and what could be fat is actually muscle. Muscle is what gives you the strength to be able to exploit having a good frame for sprinting, so the higher proportion of it you have, the easier sprinting becomes.
How Will A Good Sprint Time Help Me In Baseball?
This is easy. The faster you can sprint, the easier you will find it to achieve a fabled home run. You will feel more confident in your footwork, and so will also be able to negotiate the corners around the bases more easily.
When you realize that another phrase used for scoring a home run is ‘going yard’, you will appreciate the importance of being able to cover those yards as smoothly and as efficiently as possible.
Conversely, being a fast sprinter also means you can get to the ball more quickly in the outfield, and be effective in stopping rival offense players hitting home runs themselves.
Who Are The Fastest Players in MLB?
Of course, it’s almost impossible to come up with a definitive answer, as players’ performance changes throughout the season, and from one season to the next.
But Cincinnati Reds player Billy Hamilton is one of the most effective base-stealers, achieving his 215 career bases since 2014 by hitting a top speed of 30.1 feet per second.
But the most famous base-stealer in MLB history is arguably Ricky Henderson. The so-called ‘Man of Steal’ was named for his ability to steal bases prolifically. He had an incredible 24-year career, in which he played for nine different teams. His 130 stolen bases achieved in the 1982 season is far and away the highest number ever recorded. By the time he retired in 2003, Henderson had chalked up 297 home runs, and 1,406 stolen bases.
Another worthy of mention is Dave Collins, who starred for the California Angels in the early-1970s. Collins stole 60 bases in a single season (1984) for the Toronto Blue Jays, yet he was an example where his sprint talents were used sparingly, as he spent much of his career as a bench player.