Sacred Heart University's off-season baseball program has yielded tremendous results, dramatically improving team performance on the field. Our methods are based on individualization for each athlete to optimize injury prevention, force production, nutrition and psychology. (Check out STACK's Library of Sport Psychology Tips for Athletes.)
The main goal for each player is to be able to play each time he is called upon. Baseball players are incredibly imbalanced athletes, and they are usually banged up. (Learn how to Eliminate Muscle Imbalances.) Aggressively correcting these imbalances during the off-season is the foundation for durability. Once imbalances have been corrected, we strength-train to protect against injury.
Enhancing force production is highly dependent on the athlete's absolute and relative strength. The great majority of our athletes lack muscle mass and overall strength, so that will be the focus for this series. We need to give them more horsepower in their engine so they can apply more force into the ground, which will allow them to run faster, throw harder and hit with more power.
Nutrition and psychology are also part of the program. Nutritional changes will not stick without proper psychological training. At SHU, we look to maximize our psychology in daily life and in the gym to have direct transfer to the field. This includes creating a culture within our baseball team to expect the best of ourselves and our teammates.
Our first step in correcting imbalances is to assess each player, including orthopedic, movement and postural screens. Sports coaches show me video of players who have suffered injuries or have been classified as high risk because of their throwing or hitting style.
For the sake of simplicity, I have included just the main portion of our six-week intensive baseball workout program. Our warm-ups are done as a team, and adjustments are made on the fly for athletes with different needs.
A1) Front Box Squat (light touch, below parallel)
A2) Ankle Mobility - 3x10
B1) Single-Leg DB Deadlift - 3x10 each leg
B2) Inverted Rows - 3xmax
B3) Push-Ups (with push-up bars or dumbbells)
C1) Eccentric Glute-Ham Raise
C2) Incline Bench Ys - 3x10
C3) Incline Bench Ts- 3x10
A) Sled Push - 10x1 (max weight for 6-8 seconds, 1-2 minutes rest between sets)
B1) Box Jumps or Depth Jumps
B2) Rack Pull/Deadlift
B3) Hip Flexor Mobilization - 3x10 each side
C2) Single-Leg Squat to Box - 3x10 each side
Stick around for Part 2 of this series, which will present our nutritional plan and the psychological experiment that caused one athlete to gain 15 pounds of lean mass while losing fat.