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What’s Unique About Your Baseball Program?

If you google “Baseball Strength and Conditioning in San Diego” I am certain you will find a ton of results. Every strength and conditioning coach has their own twist on their training and it most certainly continues to evolve as we steadily find more research studies to support exercise selection, training modalities, and the way we track objective information over the course of time. Every baseball player dreams of playing in the Show, getting drafted out of high school, and/or attending school through an athletic scholarship. If they haven’t set their goals that far yet then they’re most likely on the road to just being the best player they can be. How do we get there? Talent will only take you so far and most of the time, even the most talented, need to be put in a better position to succeed. Enter a periodized baseball strength and conditioning program tailored to the athlete. 

Needs Analysis/Evaluation – Building a Foundation

From the get go, almost no one that enters our facility jumps into a training program immediately. How do we help the person in front of us when we know nothing about them? If you look at the big picture, training on average can be broken up into 4-6hrs total depending on training frequency out of 168hrs/wk. Although we as coaches can make an impact in that small fraction of a time, the bigger issue lies in what this person does in the 162hrs when they’re not training at the facility. Every athlete that walks through our doors comes in for a needs analysis/evaluation. This is a 90 minute session where a coach and athlete dive into injury history, training history, client goals, nutrition, sleep hygiene, water intake, movement analyses, shoulder screens, passive and active ROM, what modalities have worked with them in the past, what hasn’t proven to help, etc.. The best way I can describe this process to a person who is weary and doesn’t see the benefit of it is by asking them this: How do you fine-tune a race car to be faster, make sharper turns and ride better when you don’t know what is underneath the hood?

       

Shoulder flexion screen         Shoulder abduction screen

Let’s use the two images above as a brief example. They’re both utility players but mostly play infield. Based on what you see, would you prescribe the same strength and conditioning program? I could write an essay based on the evaluations between the two but the answer is simply no. Basics being, the athlete on the left has a decade’s worth of training experience in the weight room whereas the right has just scratched the surface. Skeletal maturity, biological age, hormonal development.. my argument is that there is no cookie cutter program you can just slot an athlete into. Based on what we discover the first session will determine how we program for this individual (because every program written is specifically tailored for that person’s needs).

Arm Care – Seriously, Just Do It 

If you’re serious about baseball and want to lengthen your career, then an arm care program definitely has its place. One characteristic that MLB players have under their belt is taking care of their arm. The best arm care program is the one done consistently. Learn your weaknesses, cover your bases, and do the grunt work! The amount of pitching lessons, strength gains, throwing and weighted ball programs does not matter if your arm can’t handle the intensity. We’ll deliver these programs to our athletes based on maturity and skill level. Some coaches fill it in their programs as part of their rest break (as long as form/technique doesn’t break under fatigue). Whatever way implemented, you only have one shoulder and you should do everything you can to protect it!

 

 

Physioball Prone Trap Raise

Kneeling ER w/ Perturbations

 

Sport Specificity and Exercise Selection

Baseball is a game of power. More specifically, baseball is a game of linear acceleration and rotational power. All the movements in baseball (other than spitting seeds and throwing the rally cap into the mix) like sprinting after a fly ball, swinging a baseball bat, and throwing a baseball at high velocities. Exercise selection will be chosen based on where an athlete is in their season, their training experience, biological maturity, etc. A good strength training program will have what we call foundational movement patterns. 

    1. Squat – goblet squat, landmine squat, front squat, safety bar squat
    2. Hinge – deadlift, RDL
    3. Lunge – single leg emphasis like reverse lunges, step ups, SL RDL’s
    4. Push – push-up, DB bench press, landmine press
    5. Pull – TRX row, cable rows, tripod rows
    6. Carry – bracing strategies like farmer’s walks, overhead carries, planks in all planes

 

       

   Pin Squats                                             Hex Deadlift

Most generic strength and conditioning programs aren’t suited for baseball players. With football being the king sport that controls the high school/college setting in the weight room, most don’t transfer to improve baseball performance and may include disadvantageous exercises that put an athlete’s shoulder at risk. We’ve all experienced a training program that made us puke, be in so much pain it hurts to sit on the toilet, and make getting out of the car a living hell. Are those sessions actually getting you to your goals? Our strength program includes all of the movement patterns mentioned above and more, including training cycles that focus on medicine ball exercises, plyometrics, and sprints — with their shoulder AND season in mind. We incorporate lifting strategies for power development (i.e. weighted jumps, speed squats/deadlifts, band-resisted lateral bounds, etc.) but is used based on athlete readiness, maturity, and growth. 

Wrapping It Up

If your goal is to take your current self and prepare your mind and body for the next level, whether that’s the varsity team for your high school, college, or pro-ball, maximize your time by investing in a true off-season program. The program should reflect and develop an athlete’s current abilities, goals, and sport. We already know that resistance training helps with force production,

                                           

Nordic hamstring                                                                                       Turkish Get-Up

 

speed, stamina, etc. but also helps with injury prevention (stronger muscles create more stable joints). When designed proficiently, a baseball specific strength and conditioning regimen will prepare athletes to play at a higher level.

About the Author

Paolo Isaac is the Director of Performance at Kinetik in San Diego, CA. Paolo organizes our strength and conditioning programs not just for baseball, but for every sport for athletes of all ages. He has extensive knowledge in human anatomy, rehabilitation and injury-prevention.  


Click here to book an appointment with Paolo.

Paolo Isaac
paolo@kinetikperformanceco.com