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Why We Don't Back Squat Baseball Players

Nearly every exercise has its time and place, and some exercises carry higher risks than others. When I hear an athlete tell me they got hurt performing an exercise, usually squats or deadlifts, my first thought is that the lift is not the problem. Your technique probably sucked and or you’re just weak and don’t want to admit it; Strength builds resiliency.

That being said when it comes to back squatting baseball players, the risks outweigh the rewards in my opinion.

The issue is throwing a baseball uniquely puts a ton of stress on the arm and body. The internal rotation of the glenohumeral joint while throwing is the fastest motion in all of sports, and it happens in very tight quarters. Thousands of throws over the course of a baseball player’s career can lead to a lot of instability at the anterior portion of the shoulder.

The set-up of the back squat can create more instability by putting the shoulder in an abducted and externally rotated position. This also reduces the sub-acromial space which increases the likelihood of impingement. Now throw 2 to 3 hundred pounds on top of that while squatting and you can run into problems.

Being in Southern California where kids play year round for years with no time off, they already lack cuff strength and shoulder stability. The last thing these players need is a training program that’s going to add to that stress. Not to mention that most young trainees have no concept of what core control is and most are stuck in excessive lumbar extension. With pars fractures becoming more and more common these days I’d prefer not to put more shear stress on the spine with back squats.

I like squats, there is some sort of squat variation in almost every program I write, just not with a barbell on the back. We can still lift heavy and get really strong without this exercise. I haven’t programmed a back squat since probably 2014 and our athletes are stronger and healthier than ever.

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