With the World Series in full swing (no pun intended), I couldn’t help but notice how baseball players run “slightly different” than Track and Field sprinters.
I’ve often argued that in a 40 yard dash test, technical changes are required just to cover the distance in 36.8 meters. The starting position is a good example. You wouldn’t use the same “from the line, one foot back to front foot, 3 foot back for rear foot placement” implementation on a 40 yard dash test.
Same with Baseball. That goes from running from the batters box which requires the co-ordination of dropping your bat. As well, left hand hitters are closer to first base than right hand batters and requires a pivot.
In base stealing, the base runner has to pivot to his right before sprinting slightly under 90 feet. It depends on your lead from the base bag, and we all know baseball is a game of inches.
In softball, where you are not allowed to lead off the bag (or you’ll be called out) you can actually be in a sprinter’s starting crouch position at the base bag.
And then there is the effects of base running for a double or triple, or going from second base to home plate.
For curve running, 90 feet between bases makes 360 feet or 120 yards of linear running for a home run. Draw a circle around the base paths, and that makes about 133 yards (using circumference = pi x diameter) or about 121.6 meters.
A contest was held on September 15, 1929 between baseball games of a doubleheader. The “World Best” time according to Guinness is 13.3 seconds set by Evar Swanson which still stands today!
60 Yard dash Baseball Test
The 60 yard dash test on Baseball is the equivalent test to the Football 40 yard dash. Most Major League Baseball (MLB) clubs look for times under 7.00 seconds. A 60 yard dash time between 6.7 – 6.9 usually equate to an average runner on the playing field.
The difference between 60 yards and 55 meters is 13 cm or 5 inches.
Differences in Maximal Speed Running between Baseball & Sprinters
In April 2005, Erin K. Robinson submitted a thesis to the faculty of Brigham Young University titled Differences in Maximal Speed Running between Baseball Players and Sprinters (link to PDF).
As I expected, sprinters and baseball players displayed significant differences in their sprinting technique.
Below is the Abstract and Conclusion of the research.
The purpose of this study was to examine the differences in technique between sprinters and baseball players while running at maximal speeds. 20 male NCAA Division I athletes participated; ten members of the track and field team specializing in the 100m or 200m sprint or the 100m hurdles and ten members of the baseball team.
Each subject performed a maximal effort 80m sprint while their sprint times were recorded every 10m starting at the 20m mark. Each subject was filmed at they ran through a set 10m marking that included where they reached their top speed allowing the camera to capture at least one complete stride.
By using the Peak Motus System, each subject’s minimum knee flexion, minimum hip angle, knee extension at toe off, contact time, stride length, center of mass at touchdown and shank angle were measured. ANOVA with repeated measures found that sprinters and baseball players display significant differences in their sprinting technique in all variables except shank angle with the sprinters displaying a shorter 10m split time.
It was concluded that proper sprint training during baseball practice could prove to be beneficial to baseball players, however, further research would need to be conducted to support this claim.
Sprinters and baseball players do display significant differences in their sprinting technique.
Proper sprint training during baseball practice could prove to be beneficial to baseball players on several levels; however, further research would need to be conducted to support this claim.
Future studies would also need to consider the physiological differences between the subjects when looking at the biomechanical differences.