Decreasing a Players Time to First Base | Kris Massaro | Softball is For Girls
When I think of game changing skills that can define the momentum of a game I think of speed.
In fact, the term ‘speed kills’ is a very relevant phrase that speaks volumes in a players ability to change the entire outcome of a game. How many games have been won and lost on one stolen base? One past ball, a runner beating out a throw? A runner taking an extra base on a ball hit to the outfield, or a player taking home on a pass ball.
I don’t know the exact percentage, but there’s been many a game that have depended on that one little skill; a fast runner.
I spend a lot of time training speed skills to softball players. There are three different types of runners I experience. The first is the player blessed with great genetics. These are girls that are super quick naturally. I also find that these runners typically have really quirky running form. My thought is that they’re so fast no one has ever corrected them before. The second type of runner is a runner that has average speed but good running mechanics. Average runners tend to make up for what they lack in speed in good form. Lastly there are the runners that are as slow as molasses. They just look like they are barely moving. I actually really like training this type of runner. You can get really good improvements from these players and I love to see big changes bring about confidence in a player.
Softball has a big fascination with player’s times to first.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s incredibly important to have a respectable time to first. So important that it’s measured by every college to determine an overall view of a players speed.
According to “Softball Excellence” the range of times to first ranges as follows; for rightys
From the left side;
Below 2.6- great
So how do you get your players time to first to decrease?
You get your players faster. I know the secret is out. Here’s a good formula to put a visual for runner; start counting players strides to first. For example a 3.0 time is usually an 11-12 stride count. Start challenging runners to bring down their stride count. This will cause them to take larger strides.
The larger stride is a good introduction into decreasing a players time. Once players lessen their stride count, you get them to speed up the larger strides. Pretty soon that 11-12 stride count is a 11-10 stride count and their time drops to 2.9. That’s huge for runners. It’s the difference between being safe and being out.
If they drop it down to 10-9 its 2.8. So your player has suddenly dropped from average to good. I’m definitely simplifying this routine but it works. It seems to take the runner into the mindset of longer and faster. Don’t get me wrong, players need to work on the mandatory speed elements such as;
-sprinting for speed input
-developing strength and power
But this routine really helps. Next time you time your players time to first keep track of their stride count.