Today's typical baseball workout no longer neglects strength in favor of throwing and running. Performance training has finally become a priority. And it shows. From 2007 to 2013, the average fastball velocity in professional baseball rose from 90.8 to 92.5 mph.
That's why I've put together a series of articles to help you better understand strength and performance training for baseball. We'll cover corrective exercise and stability training and plane-specific power development and its impact on exercise selection.
Part 1: Rebuild
Because it has a longer season than almost every other sport, baseball can be especially taxing on the body. Common baseball injuries include:
- Strained oblique
- Elbow tendonitis
- Wrist tendonitis
- Rotator cuff tendonitis
- Hamstring strains
- Ankle sprains
More severe injuries include:
- ACL tears
- Meniscus tears
- Torn labrum
- Torn UCL (this is the ligament repaired during Tommy John surgery)
Many of those injuries can either be prevented or treated before they cause serious damage.
As soon as the season ends, it's important to assess any issues with movement you might have and draw up a plan to address them in the offseason. If you don't, you may set yourself up for an injury.
Here are five movement assessments that can indicate dysfunction. They are a good way to begin to understand your current levels of movement and how to fix any problems.
1. Overhead Squat Test
2. Shoulder Mobility Test
3. Thoracic Mobility Test
4. Active Straight Leg Raise
5. Step Over Test
Guidelines for Rebuilding
Spend time working your other half
Most players are not switch hitters—and switch throwers are even more rare. Knowing this, baseball players build up a great deal of asymmetry in their bodies. This means they can have dramatically different strengths and weaknesses in their left vs. right and front vs. back. When there is too much difference, they risk injury and decreased performance.
So in the early off-season, you want to focus on your non-dominant side.
Lose the lay back
If you are a pitcher, chances are you have long been told that velocity will increase with greater range of motion in your arm, or "lay back."
Although this is true, allowing it to continue unchecked for extended periods of time will increase your risk of injury and potentially decrease velocity in the long term.
You want to maintain roughly 180 degrees of motion in the shoulder, but where it comes from is also important. If you can rotate your arm back very aggressively, you'll want to strengthen the front of your rotator cuff in the early off-season.
Push-Ups will help here.
Stability is the priority
After spending six to nine months explosively running, swinging and throwing, you have done your fair share of maximum-velocity movements. Understanding this, it's important to begin the off-season by stabilizing your body in all its various movements. You should focus on exercises that retrain stability and control over power and speed.
Prioritize these movements:
Designing a Rebuilding Program
Step 1: Fix any red lights. (A red light is a score of 1 on the above tests.)
Step 2: Prioritize yellow lights in your warm-up. (A yellow light is a score of 2 on the tests.)
Step 3: Re-balance the body after a long season.
Step 4: Build work capacity for the green (score of 3 on tests) exercises.
A proper rebuild phase should be 10 to 21 days long to allow the body to recover from the volume and issues created during the competitive season while establishing the proper movements needed to perform optimally.
For the movement patterns and areas of the body where movement is normal and correctable, you want to build work capacity and prepare your body for the work ahead.
Here is a sample program for a right-handed athlete with yellows on all assessments:
1a) Foam roll (yellow areas)
2a) Dynamic Warm-Up
- Rock-back T-Spine Rotations
- Wall Slides
- 8 mini-band internal/external rotations - LRL
3a) Single-Leg Glute Bridge: 3x6 each leg
3b) Plank: 3x15 seconds
3c) Squat Patterning:3x6 each side
4a) Inverted Row: 2-3x12
4b) Band Aparts: 2-3x8
4c) Dead Bugs: 2-3x6 each side
4d) Pallof Press: 2-3x8 (LRL)
5) 10 minutes low-level cardio
- How to Construct a Baseball Workout
- Push-Up Workout to Build Needed Baseball Muscle
- Craig Kimbrel: How to Train as a Closing Pitcher
- The Joey Votto Workout
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