In part 1 of this article, we discussed the importance of building strength in baseball players. In part 2 we will discuss how we develop baseball-specific power.
Most high school and college lifting programs are really going to hammer home on Olympic lifts. They are a great way to develop overall athleticism and power. We don’t do any of them with our baseball players.
The injury risk is just too high with the stresses placed on the elbows, and wrists, as well as the direct impact of the bar landing on the ac joint during the catch phase of the clean. Also, the carryover to power on the baseball field is not as strong as people may think. We used to have our athletes perform high pulls, but the aggressive shrug with very little scapular upward rotation is counterintuitive to what we are trying to accomplish with our baseball players. (A big focus in our training is making sure athletes have adequate scapular upward rotation to keep the shoulder healthy)
Olympic lifts such as cleans and snatches are working in the sagittal plane so the carryover is much stronger in sagittal plane dominate sports like football or track & field. What matters most for baseball players is being able to sprint, move laterally, and rotate extremely fast. We supplement our lifting programs with rotational medicine ball drills, lateral plyometric drills, and speed drills to develop power in the frontal and transverse planes.
During the offseason, we’ll have our baseball players perform med ball throws and plyos up to 3-4 days per week before they get into their lift for the day. It is important to remember we these drills are for power development, not conditioning; we’ll never perform more than 10 reps at a time, and take adequate rest time between sets to make sure each throw is done at max intent.
We like to superset our power development drills with mobility, stability, or core drills to force the athlete to slow down and get enough rest between sets. For example, if I have an athlete with poor T-Spine mobility I will add in some T-spine mobility drills with their med ball throws. Their power work for a particular day might look something like this:
A1) Rotational MB Slam 3x5/5
A2) Bench T-Spine Mobilization 3x8
B1) Rotational MB Shot Put 3x5/5
B2) Side-Lying Windmill 3x8/8
It would be ridiculous for us to completely ignore training in the sagittal plane, but making sure we get our power work done in the other planes is going to carry more weight when it comes to developing pitching velocity and power at the plate.