Power Training for Baseball
"Sport Specific" training sounds nice, but what exactly does that mean?
Baseball players, are you truly doing all that you can to increase your bat speed and/or throwing velocity? Hitting and throwing are all about ROTATIONAL POWER! So go on and get you some of that!
Here it is, the 5-point recipe for rotational power:
1. Increase strength.
Strength is the fountain from which all awesome feats of athleticism flow. For baseball guys what's important is the ability to generate force off the ground. The vast majority of athletes will benefit from increasing their ability to brace the core while efficiently generating and transferring force through the arms and legs.
Wimpy tubing drills, bicep curls,and tricep lock outs are the last thing an adolescent baseball player needs to be doing for the purpose of strength development. They need to pay their dues perfecting form in just a few total body movement patterns and then go and move some weight!
Think squats and dead lifts, single leg work like lunges and split squats, rows, presses, chin-ups, Prowler, and oh yeah, Farmers Walks.
2. Increase total body power.
Plyometrics are where the brain learns what it feels like to go all out, to NOT pace itself, to generate high force rapidly through multiple body segments (and thus high speed movement). This is not an endurance event, but quite the opposite. Plyometrics train the quality that we call "explosiveness."
Most athletes see drastic gains with just a few weeks of appropriate upper body and lower body plyos, with the ultimate degree of improvement dependent on their Awesome Bucket (see point number 1).
3. Increase rotational flexibility.
If an athlete is lacking rotational flexibility of the hips, shoulders, or trunk, all the power in the world will not transfer well to the baseball skills at hand. So stretch those hip flexors and lateral hip rotors. Sit up straight and extend and rotate that thoracic spine, Slumpy McSlumperson. Make sure your baseball gurus know what appropriate range of motion and stretching technique of a throwers shoulder looks like before you go cranking away on that arm.
4. Increase mechanical efficiency.
Here I'm talking about deliberate practice in hitting and/or pitching mechanics. There are plenty of massive, strong, and powerful athletes who make average, mechanically poor baseball players. In my book, the most impressive athletes are the ones with small to average size and beastly on-field power.
Again, drills that mimic a throwing or hitting movement with elastic tubing or light dumbbells...I'll just go ahead and say that those are stupid at best. They can be plain dangerous from an injury standpoint. They may also do more harm than good to the finely tuned, total body motor control needed for generating arm- and bat speed while actually throwing or hitting a baseball (as motor control is highly task specific).
On the one hand, quality baseball instruction can provide immediate and almost miraculous results. On the other hand, it can only take an athlete so far if they lack strength or flexibility to control their body segments in rapid fashion (see points 1 through 3). Many instructors are quick to point out that a hitter or pitcher does this or that mechanically without giving proper attention to identifying and fixing why that's occurring. The coach can talk mechanics until he's blue in the face, but the athlete may need to work on strength and/or mobility for 2 weeks or months before he can even approach the desired mechanics.
5. Get moving and measure! The more time you have, the better. Some aspects of training and conditioning will take a while to develop. Other aspects can unlock immediate gains, so any time is a great time to start.
So now give me one good reason to train for baseball anywhere other than GoWags!