Kaitlyn Shepherd, Carson Bowers, Kate Early, Clayton Nicks, Brian Tyo. Columbus State University, Columbus, GA.

BACKGROUND: Base stealing in baseball is an important offensive measure which can lead to a more productive offense. Strategizing which players may best be suited to steal bases could improve the success of base stealing. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship between fitness and steal times in Division II baseball players using 3 different start techniques [crossover step (CS), drop-step (DS), jab-step (JS)]. METHODS: Fifteen Division II college baseball players participated in this study (age= 20.7 ±1.4y; height= 1.78 ±0.1m; body mass= 85.1 ±12.7kg; body fat= 16.1 ±6.1%). Anthropometrics were assessed on day 1. On days 2-4, participants ran 3 sprints (19 m), performing one of the start techniques each day. Electronic timing gates were placed 5m beyond the starting line to record 5m split time and 4.5m from 2nd base to record total time (TT). On test days 5-7 the subjects performed a pro-agility test and 1 RM in back squats with a Wingate Aerobic test (WAnT) on the final test day. RESULTS: The CS middle split (5m marker) (1.75±.10s) was significantly faster than the JS(mean=1.84±.07s) and DS (1.82±.08s) split time (p<.001). There was not a difference in TT between CS (mean=2.9475, SD= 0.15 s), DS (mean=2.98, SD=0.13 s, and JS (mean=2.96, SD= 0.128)(p=0.38). TT and fitness testing was significantly related to all start techniques (p<0.001). CS and JS TT were related to mean power output (p<0.05). Regression analysis demonstrated that the pro-agility test explained >60% of the variance for all start techniques. CONCLUSIONS: Start technique for base stealing did not have an impact on steal time, suggesting that baseball players should choose technique based on preference. Agility and power have the biggest impact on base stealing times. Baseball players should focus on development of lower body power independent of start technique selection. Slower pro-agility time was related to lower TT for all techniques. Lower body power was predictive of faster TT for CS and JS. Together these data suggest that baseball players should improve lower body strength in order to enhance base stealing times.

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