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The Reason Behind The 60 Yard Dash

The 60-yard dash is a short race that spans 60 yards and is most often used in professional baseball. The fastest 60-yard dash was run by Herb Washington, who ran it in 5.8 seconds in 1972. But why does baseball use the 60-yard dash?

The 60-yard dash is used in Major League Baseball to evaluate a player’s acceleration and speed. Although running to first base is only 30 yards, players also need to be fast on defense so they can cover as much ground as possible.

Baserunner wearing number 16 sprinting past first base while the first baseman stretches for a ball thrown in the dirt

But who started the 60-yard dash, and why? Let’s take a look at this in more detail to find out.

What is the Purpose of the 60-Yard Dash?

There is no record of who started the 60-yard dash, but there is plenty of information on its purpose.

The purpose of the dash is to determine a player’s acceleration, agility, and speed. It is one of the first tests that baseball scouts use at the college and professional levels.

The bad news is that 60-yard dash times are not very well tracked in the MLB so it’s difficult to say what the fastest 60-yard dash time actually is. But I did put together this article that goes over four potential answers to the fastest 60 yard dash time in MLB history.

Baseball Scouts Use the 60-Yard Dash to Rate Possible Recruits 

If you’ve ever been to a baseball tryout, you know the 60-yard dash is an integral part of a team’s search and recruitment process.

Most MLB scouts look for middle infielders and outfielders to have the fastest 60-yard dash time, usually around a 6.8-second time or faster.

Catchers and corner infielders can have a slightly slower 60-yard dash at about 7.25 seconds or lower.

How Fast Should A 14-Year-Old Run A 60-Yard Dash?

A good speed for a 14-year-old in a 60-yard dash is between eight and nine seconds. However, those who are in training for baseball can reach speeds below eight seconds.

Youth players tend to get faster as they age, which you can see when you’re looking at 60-yard dash times by age.

While not all players will progress the same in their 60-yard dash times, a good rule of thumb is that players tend to get 0.5 seconds quicker between the ages of 11 and 15. Between the ages of 15 and 18 players tend to run 0.2 seconds quicker.

For comparison, most Major League Baseball players run a 60-yard dash in under seven seconds. In fact, some of the fastest players in baseball run a 60-yard dash in around 6.5 seconds.

How to Improve Your 60-Yard Dash Time in Baseball

The First 15 Yards of the 60 Yard Dash are Important

Quickness is the most important part of a faster 60-yard dash.

The first 15 yards is a linear sprint, and you should have a forward lean to gain momentum and overcome the forces of gravity. And you should keep your body angled forward during the entire dash – not just at the start.

Take Longer Steps to Improve Your 60-Yard Dash Time

Another important tip from the pros is to lengthen your stride.

By making your stride longer, you will get from point A to point B faster, no matter what. After the first 15 yards, your strides should be more cyclical with the top-to-bottom knee drive over lengthened strides.

Check Your Posture to Improve Your 60-Yard Dash Time

To get faster speed, one thing you should do is videotape yourself practicing a 10-yard dash. Watch that video to check your posture and forward lean.

After you get your 10-yard dash speed down, your 60-yard dash speed will instantly be much faster.

Lose Fat and Build the Muscle to Improve Speed

Another thing you can do to increase your speed is to lose your fat mass and build more muscle mass. In doing this, you are using almost your entire body for performing.

The more fat you have, the less muscle mass you have to propel you faster.

Just make sure you know the correct exercises to get you in baseball shape. You can also read my article on back workouts for baseball players for specific exercises to strengthen your back.

Building Strength is Important to Improve Speed

Building your strength is incredibly important in improving your 60-yard dash time.

Squats are an excellent way to build strength in your legs. For example, take a baseball player who is 175 pounds and can squat 400 pounds versus a 175-pound baseball player that can only do 300 pounds.

The player who can squat 400 pounds is putting 200 pounds of force per foot into the ground. The other player is only putting out 150 pounds of force per foot.

That generally means the one who can squat 400 pounds will be a faster sprinter. Although other variables can change their speeds, this example is specifically about the strength to propel.

You should also have excellent mobility and flexibility. Being able to flex and move your legs and hips improves the extension in your hips and knees, giving you a longer stride and faster speed.

Perfect the Leg Drive to Improve Your 60-Yard Dash Time

No matter how strong you are, your legs have to move right to get the best time. You need to hit the ground with the ball of your feet to accelerate your body forward as fast as possible.

Try this 60-yard dash form drill to improve your speed:

  • Put your hands on the wall and lean forward. Make sure you keep your ears and ankles aligned.
  • Pushing up on your toes, bring one knee up to a 90-degree angle.
  • Run in place, pretending to push the wall over.
  • Continue to lean forward and keep your posture as you get faster for about 10 seconds.

Practice Arm Swings to Improve Speed

Correctly swinging your arms has a lot to do with your 60-yard dash speed.

Focus on keeping your elbows locked at a 90-degree angle while keeping them tucked in close to your body.

Your hands should go all the way from your hip up to your face. Also, you have to move your arms from your shoulder joint forward and backward.

One of the best ways to practice this is with this arm swing drill:

  • Sit up straight with your legs straight in front of you.
  • Lock your elbows at 90 degrees and start with one arm back and the other forward.
  • Move your arms back and forth slowly like you are running.
  • Continue to speed up your movements until you are at your top speed and keep going for ten more seconds.

Have a Warm-Up Routine Before Running the 60-Yard Dash

Whether you are running the bases or only pitching in a game, everyone has to warm up first.

Here are some of the top warm-up routines for the pros:

  • 25 to 30 jumping jacks
  • 15 iron cross lifts
  • 10 cossack squats per leg
  • 10 forward to reverse lunges per leg
  • 15 to 20 hip thrusts
  • 20 to 30 yards of A skips
  • 20 to 30 yards of B skips
  • 3 laps on the track

Try Some of the Speed and Agility Tools Used by the Pros

The pros have their own unique tools in their warm-up routines that they tend to do. It doesn’t matter if you’re a track and field runner or a baseball player, each player has a unique thing they prefer for warm ups.

Some of the most common warm-up routines include:

  • An agility ladder
  • Training cones
  • Resistance parachutes
  • Hurdles
  • Resistance bands
  • Medicine balls
  • A jump rope

The Controversy Over the 60-yard Dash

There is a bit of controversy about the 60-yard dash being integral to scouting a professional baseball player.

The debate around the 60-yard dash in baseball centers around the fact that the distance between home plate and first base is only 30 yards. Critics claim that the 30-yard distance is the only real sprint time on which scouts should focus.

Since 60 yards is equal to running two bases, the 60-yard dash speed may be relevant for hitting a double, but because running two bases is never in a straight line, the 60-yard dash is not accurate for this either.

As far as stealing bases, players are only moving up 30 yards at a time. Additionally, players are typically already 10 feet off of the bag when they’re stealing so the distance is even shorter.

And then they use about 10 feet of sliding space to slide into the next base, right? So that only leaves roughly 20 yards of sprinting.

How does the 60-yard dash play into this? Those who contest the 60-yard dash suggest a 20-yard dash speed test would make more sense.

A Final Note

Whether the 60-yard dash is accurate for baseball scouting or not, it is still used as one of the essential qualities that scouts look for in a potential player.

Players must get their 60-yard dash speed below seven seconds if they want a chance to make it to the big leagues.

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Steve Nelson

I'm the owner of Baseball Training World. I live in Denver, Colorado and I enjoy playing baseball in an adult baseball team in the surrounding area. Read more about Steve Nelson.