Sport-specific training is a term that gets thrown out there quite a bit, but what does this actually mean? First and foremost, regardless of your sport and your position you should be training to be the best athlete you can possibly be. This means being strong, fast, powerful, and explosive. From there athletes should be focusing on the demands of their sport and preventing the specific injuries that could arise.
So what does this mean for baseball Players?
Baseball-specific training is not mimicking the movements of the sport under load, it isn't simply substituting bench press with DB bench press, and it is not just doing your rice bucket exercises to build your forearms.
Baseball is a power-driven sport. We throw the ball as hard as we can, we swing, and sprint in short bursts at a time. We are working primarily in our anaerobic energy system, which is why baseball players need to be VERY STRONG. Strength and power are directly related, an increase in strength allows for greater potential power output.
Most high school strength programs consist of cleans, squats, and bench, and for most populations that works, those are great exercises, just not ideal for baseball. That being said, baseball players are not delicate little flowers that should steer clear of the weight room. To play at a high level you should without a doubt be getting after it in the gym. Take a look at how the average weight of major league baseball players has steadily increased since the 1970s.
Link to full article here
Parents bring us their young baseball players to help them sprint faster, hit and throw the ball harder. Often times they are surprised that we spend the majority of our time lifting weights and building strength, not on the “speed” ladders, vertimax, and various agility drills.
Those tools can be useful, but most young athletes have not built up a big enough foundation of strength in order to make use of them. Many times these drills can be a complete waste of time because the athlete is not able produce enough force. In other words, you have to have power (force/time) in order to train it.
The teen years are the biggest developmental window athletes have. By building a large foundation of strength during these years an athlete can exponentially enhance their speed, power, and sport-specific skill as they continue to develop.
A large portion of our strength training is focused on developing the posterior chain. The trap bar deadlift and front squats are two great lifts for baseball players to build lower body strength and power. A varsity baseball player should be able to pull at least 300lbs and front squat over 200lbs. Those are not big numbers, and if that seems daunting you’re behind the eight ball.
We'll have our athletes lift up to 4x per week during the offseason in upper body and lower body splits. A typical week will go as follows:
Monday - Heavy lower body lift
Tuesday - Heavy Upper body lift
Wednesday - Speed day/recovery day
Thursday - Lighter lower body lift
Friday - Lighter upper body lift
Saturday - Speed day/recovery day
Sunday - Off
Consistency is king. When an athlete buys in to this format and really dedicates their offseason to building a significant amount of strength, combined with good nutrition and sleeping habits, they can take their game to a whole new level.
In part 2 of this article we'll discuss developing power for baseball players.
Hall, Carelton. “MLB Players Packing on Muscle: Analysis of 144 Years of Reported Weight of Players.” Medium, 27 Dec. 2016, medium.com/@CQH/mlb-players-packing-on-muscle-analysis-of-144-years-of-reported-weight-of-players-b8f56afcda9b.