Baserunning in Baseball

People often describe baseball as a game of inches. It is described this way due to the propensity of a game to change drastically on one close play. Because of the nature of a baseball game, baseball coaches are always looking for any way to get an advantage over their opponents in hopes of swinging close games in their favor. The use of technology in baseball has exploded over the past five to seven years, with pitchers and hitters using all kinds of equipment to improve their skills and ability to play at a high level. This project allowed the team use a laser timing system to test our coaches’ baserunning theory and determine if our method is the best way to teach baserunning to our baseball players at Freed-Hardeman.

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There are many theories and disagreements on how to teach baserunning. Most baseball coaches have a particular method they prefer because a coach taught them or they have seen success with a specific process in the past. While an individual team or player might succeed in baserunning a certain way, there is usually no scientific data to support their approach and no way to know if they are maximizing their abilities on the basepaths. This ELI project explored and tested our baserunning philosophy and allowed the data collected to challenge our current beliefs. It also shaped our opinion of the best way to teach baserunning so that we can exhaust our talents when running the bases.

The project funds supported the purchase of a Dashr timing system with three timing gates to get two times for each run. The gates were set up where a player typically gets his lead off first base, halfway between first and second base, and at second base. The first gate represented our starting point, the second gate represented the estimated location of where athletes reach top speed, and the third gate represented our ending point. The placement of the gates allowed us to measure two different times, allowing us to record the time it takes for a player to get to top speed and the time it takes them to get from their leadoff position to second base.

The project took place as athlete monitoring during baseball practice during the Fall of 2022. Athlete monitoring is the regular assessment of player performance and adaptations to various training techniques. This project assessed the baserunning times of the FHU Baseball players at the beginning of fall practice to get baseline times. The baseball coaches then taught the players our normal baserunning philosophy throughout the semester. The players were reassessed halfway through the semester and again at the end of the fall to measure the players’ progress.

The results of this study will allow players and coaches to evaluate the current baserunning technique taught by FHU Baseball coaches for years to come. The Dashr data will continue to determine if the coaching philosophy needs to adapted as different players join the team. The evaluation process will also allow our baseball coaches to give our players better instruction in the future and help them to achieve more individual and team success.

StudentHow did participating in the project benefit you?

As an FHU Baseball player, this study allowed me to connect academics and athletics, engaging my previously acquired academic knowledge with an athletics challenge. Biomechanics and Anatomical Kinesiology, two classes I have previously taken, provided me with a basic understanding of the human body and how it moves. Doing this study presented a new experience that will help me better understand how different training methods produce adaptations. This deeper understanding enriches my current athletic experience, as well as my intended future profession. Engaging academics and athletics is also a positive for Freed- Hardeman University because it creates a sense of inclusion for two departments generally seen as separate entities.

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