Thursday, October 3, 2013

Training for Baseball/Softball

This Sunday night, Dr. Dan Johnson from Spine and Sport and myself will be giving a presentation on the Principles of Training for Baseball/Softball.  Since I do most of my work out of a baseball academy I think it's only fitting to share how to approach training for this unique sport. 

The biggest I problem I see with preparing for this sport, whether it's youth through college, is a cookie cutter approach.  Youth often over-throw and play too many games, while never prepare physically even though it is probably the most important thing they could do.  High schools mostly follow a football type of workout that has no specificity to the sport nor the athlete, it's just bench, squat, and clean.  And many colleges still use general workouts with no specific programming for different positions or each individual athlete. 

This is a problem, as baseball is unique in many different ways and requires a good grasp on the biomechanics and stresses baseball puts on the body.  A generic rotator cuff complex is short-sided and will yield limited results, the bench press, back squat, or military press probably isn't wise for most of the baseball population, and the scapula is the culprit behind about 95% of shoulder injuries, but does the average program really attack this area?

The joint speed of the shoulder during throwing is the single fastest movement in the human body.  Pretty incredible, and requires some pretty incredibly smart training.  Let's take a look at the 3 biggest areas training programs can improve.

  1. Assessment - If you're not assessing you're just guessing.  Every sport needs and in-depth, thorough assessment, but this holds especially true in baseball/softball.  With all the parts involved in this game, joint ROM, stability, strength, coordination, bone structure, tissue quality, and biomechanics all need to be evaluated.  Every athlete is different and require a different approach to their training and recovery process.  A 5'8 pitcher will need different training than a 6'4 pitcher; just as a centerfielder will need different training than a first basemen.  
  2. Training the Transverse Plane - The transverse plane in simple terms is rotational movements.  Take one look at baseball/softball and it's obvious they live on rotational movements - throwing, swinging, stealing bases.  These rotations come with a specific sequence and is a movement pattern that can be trained and improved.  But take one look at many training programs, and there is virtually no rotational movements, it's mostly up and down or lateral (which is a good start, but still need more).  Using med balls, bands, sleds, and kettlebells can all be used to train in the transverse plane and build strength and power in this essential movement.
  3. Long Distance Running - I don't know why this lives on, but why do baseball players run for distance?  To build a base is not a valid answer, as there are many other methods that can achieve mobility, stability, and strength gains while working to increasing a "base".  Baseball is an explosive, power sport; one that lives in the alactic energy system.  This means you need to be able to be powerful for multiple reps with close to max recovery between those reps.  No where does distance running fit into this realm.  Along those same lines is when I hear, "Some of those guys need to get into shape."  What shape?  Running repeat 300's, running gassers, or running poles?  Look at most major league players, you probably wouldn't classify them as being in what we think of as shape.  But what they can do is produce huge amounts of force and power, rest 20 seconds and repeat.  That's baseball shape.  Being able to run repeat 300's has no bearing on whether a guy can pitch 7 innings.  Just as football shape is different than basketball shape is different than swimming shape.  Baseball is a different type of shape and preparation.
So if you're in the Dubuque area Sunday night, come on down to Bases Loaded (3185 Hughes Ct.) at 6:30pm for a great presentation on this information and more.

Check out the PRESENTATION HERE for a look at the notes, but come on Sunday to get the in-depth stuff. 

Go Get 'Em!

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