Most Effective Way to Train for Baseball Players...stop running and start lifting!!

Baseball is an explosive game and needs to be trained that way. Way too often I see coaches making their players run long distances to “get in shape”, but what are they getting in shape for? Don’t get me wrong, running is great…I love it, but “in shape” for baseball has a completely different meaning that doesn’t include the ability to run for 20 minutes at a time. Unless you DH and drop bombs EVERY at bat, you probably aren’t jogging many places on the baseball field. As a fielder, you don’t see the ball hit the bat and take off on a 10 minute jog to chase it down. As a hitter, you don’t hit one in the right-center gap and think “Man I wish I could work my mile time down to 6 minutes!” NO…you EXPLODE out of the box looking for 2, or even 3 for some of us. You EXPLODE laterally, forward, or back to track down the ball and make the play. As a pitcher, you EXPLODE off your back foot, down the mound toward the plate to pump that 93mph fastball by the hitter! Then you take a break. It’s less than 2 seconds of work and 20 seconds of rest depending on game situation. As a position player you may full out sprint up to 180 ft for a double (depending on your age and bases). Some of us will sprint up to 270ft on occasion for a triple or scoring from 1st on a gapper, but then you get a break. HOW IS RUNNING POLES OR LONG DISTANCES GOING TO HELP WITH THIS??? Your body adapts to the demands you put it through. If you consistently train slow, then when it comes time to perform you will perform slow. We need to get our baseball guys training EXPLOSIVELY with movements like sprinting, medicine ball throws, jumping, and pushing/pulling/lifting/carrying heavy things! (definition of heavy is relative to the person, never sacrifice form or technique to lift heavier).   With the proper training, your body will adapt to the demands of the sport and then you UNLEASH THE BEAST on the field!! Training the right way is now more important than ever. Guys are throwing harder, hitting for more power, and showcasing their speed on the bases like never before. To keep up with that standard, you have to be explosive. AND there is only one way to do that, TRAIN EXPLOSIVELY!

 

Performance training helps prepare our bodies and reduce injury risk

A recent discussion with a few youth baseball parents and coaches has inspired me to write this post. The discussion was on the topic of performance training for baseball players, more specifically youth baseball players. One comment was particularly powerful in my mind and is the true inspiration for this writing. The comment went something like this, I’m just not sure these kids have enough time to train. They have practice 3-4 nights per week, tournaments on the weekends, and that’s just 1 team, some are playing on multiple teams.

Here are a couple quick thoughts on this topic.

1)      My main concern regarding this statement is, “some are playing on multiple teams”. It is pretty well documented that playing on multiple teams is a huge contributing factor to youth baseball injuries ranging anywhere from shoulder/elbow soreness to fractures of the growth plate and/or ligamentous damage. We typically see fractures in the younger athletes (< 13) and ligamentous injuries in the older (> 13) but this can vary depending on the individual’s development. (I will save injury specifics for a later post). My first recommendation here would be to educate the parents about the risks involved with this and suggest they limit their child to only 1 team to help keep them safe and healthy. You can also refer them to this link, http://m.mlb.com/pitchsmart/risk-factors/  which will give them the most up to date information on ways they can keep their youth baseball player on the field and out of the doctor’s office.

2)      I agree, that does sound like a very busy schedule. It certainly sounds like it would leave a parent wondering how they would fit training into that schedule. Here’s a thought, practice and game schedules have become extremely taxing on youth athletes, baseball in particular. Too many games, too much travel (causing poor sleeping habits as well as poor nutrition), too many throws, etc results in too much stress on our youth athletes and their “ill-prepared” bodies.

We, as parents and coaches, are pushing these young kids harder than ever before, but not giving them the tools to help them stay safe and perform at their best. The link above also points out several other contributing factors to injuries, including throwing when fatigued and lack of strength/mobility. I would urge parents, coaches, and players to play less and train more. We need to do a better job of preparing our youth athletes for the on-field demands and stresses. Keeping them active in a well rounded strength and conditioning program will give them the tools to stay healthy and perform at their best. Think quality over quantity. Some express concern in regard to reducing the on-field time as they feel it may limit their exposure to college/professional scouts. However, playing in twice as many games at 75% isn’t going to impress anyone. Making training a part of your weekly routine can help in so many ways. By improving your strength, power, mobility, and efficiency you ensure that each on-field exposure will be of high quality.

Thanks for reading. I hope you find this information useful. Be on the lookout for more great posts coming soon.

John