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Why Running Speed Does Not Matter

By Coach Marc

Softball is a speed and power sport. I know, I’ve said it countless times over the last few years.

However, softball speed isn’t what most people think.

Being fast, to most people, means to be able to run faster than others in a straight line.

Think 40-yard dash and 100-meter sprint.

To most athletes and coaches, being fast means being like a sprinter so they assume they should train like it.

So, you see a lot of softball players and teams that go to track coaches or to so-called “speed specialist” and they do sprinter-like training.

In a nutshell, that means a bunch of running form drills and sprints.

Can that help your softball game? It can’t hurt especially when to it comes to running form.

Is that going to really elevate your game to the next level? NO.

Why is that? Because it’s not softball-specific speed.

The problem with most trainers, track coaches or speed specialists, they don’t really understand our game.

You see, softball isn’t about running fast in a linear fashion.

That’s even more true in softball than in baseball where distances are even shorter.

Running fast in a straight line (aka linear speed) is not an important quality in softball.

What really matters for dominating on the softball field:

Quality #1 – Ability to quickly accelerate

This is what I call the “first three steps” or your ability to get to full speed quickly. This is very important.

Quality #2 – Ability to change directions quickly

Quality #3 – Lateral speed (multi-directional speed)

So, if you spend your time running sprints in a straight line, you are wasting a lot of time because what you do will not really turn into a greater performance.

Instead, focus on accelerating quickly in any directions, changing directions, and moving laterally.

Working on these things will definitely help your game – not strickly working on linear speed.

Keep in mind that in softball, by the time that you get to your  full speed, you already have to prepare to change direction.

How useful is it to work on linear speed if you never really use it in a game?

Think about it.


Comments on Why Running Speed Does Not Matter »

March 18, 2009

Ken Krause @ 2:01 pm

That’s great information, and probably very much misunderstood. Thanks, Marc.

March 20, 2009

Brian Manning @ 8:52 am


I think this is a common element among a lot of sports. When people talk about having the extra half step to bring up their game, they aren’t talking about a half step after running 50 feet. They’re talking about the ability to get the extra half step in the first three steps.

March 23, 2009

Tina @ 12:36 pm

Get info! Now all we need is the drill to improve taking off and accelerating. 🙂

March 25, 2009

Dan S. @ 6:07 pm

I believe that is the case for most sports. Other than sprinting most sports need acceleration and lateral movement. However, I’m not sure I completely agree with you. The 20 yards from home to first is critical. Yes the first three steps are important, but speed beyond that is also. Going from base to base is primarily linear, even first to home is basically linear, so I’m not sure I buy that it isn’t important.

March 30, 2009

Marc Dagenais @ 8:37 pm

From what I have seen, the problem with most kids isn’t linear speed but getting to their speed. As long as you work on good running form (god knows many of them need it), it is much more important to work on the qualities listed above – in my opinion 🙂

June 9, 2009

Softball Drills – Reaction Drill « Softball Drills @ 2:24 pm

[…] Drills – Reaction Drill By softballdrill Purpose: To learn awareness and proper base running mechanics when running from home plate to first […]

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