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 both Herb Washington and Mel Pender, who ran it in 5.8 seconds in 1972 and 1973, respectively.

The 60-yard dash is used in Major League Baseball to evaluate the players’ acceleration and speed. Although running to first base is only 30 yards, players need to be able to run a double as fast as possible. In fact, for the American League, you have to run it in under seven seconds.

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.

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

According to the baseball recruiting guidelines for the All-American Baseball Academy, the 60-yard dash is an integral part of their search and recruitment process. 

Both middle infielders and outfielders have to have a 6.8-second 60-yard dash or faster. Catchers and corner infielders need a 7.25 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.

One study found that age difference is a significant factor, while others claim that the 60-yard dash speed is unimportant. Still, it is widely used in scouting so it remains one of the most essential skills to master for those wanting to get into the majors.

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

According to the experts, 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 gait 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 to 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.

Building Strength is Important to Improve Speed

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

Squats can be 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 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 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. You should 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 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 Warm-Up Routine Before Running the 60-Yard Dash

Whether you are running the bases or pitching 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 special tools in their warm-up routines that they like to share. It does not matter whether you are a track and field runner or a baseball player. Each player has a unique thing they do.

Some of the most common 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.

It centers around the fact that the distance between home plate and first base is only 30 yards. Gerry DeFilippo, a strength coach for the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL), asserts that the 30-yard distance is the only real sprint time on which they should focus.

Since 60 yards is equal to running two bases, the 60-yard dash speed may be relevant for that purpose. 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, this is not a 60-yard dash either. When stealing a base, the player is typically already about 10 feet off of the bag. And then they use about 10 feet of sliding space to slide into the next base, right? So that only leaves 20 yards of sprinting.

How does the 60-yard dash play into this? Those who are contesting this suggest that 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. So, you must get your speed below seven seconds if you want to make it to the big leagues.

Steve Nelson

I'm the owner of Baseball Training World. I live in Denver, Colorado and I enjoy playing baseball on two different adult baseball teams in the surrounding area.

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