Rotational Training for Baseball (1)

What I've seen of the ESPN 30 for 30 documentaries have been excellent, but I especially liked Jordan Rides the Bus. This episode details Michael Jordan's first retirement from professional basketball and foray into pro baseball.

Watching this, I thought about the fact that Jordon was arguably the greatest athlete in the world at that time. He had access to every resource imaginable and plenty of time to train and practice. He had experience, drive, athleticism, and loads of visibility. And yet he failed at high level baseball.

Lebron is jacked, but not for the transverse plane.
I admire Jordon for giving it an honest effort. At the same time it's laughable that he truly thought he could pull it off. The documentary didn't say this, but...

Jordan clearly didn't understand motor control theory and human development. He didn't understand that the mind and body are one and both adapt in stages over years not months. He had plenty of what we call "God-given" talent. But one look could tell you that he wasn't equipped as a baseball player.

The typical rotational powerhouse.
Even today, the typical high level basketball player is super muscular and fit, but they simply don't appear like the typical high level baseball player. The difference in structure that we readily see has everything to do with qualities of sport-specific power. Basketball players are powerhouses in the sagittal (front to back) plane but not the transverse (rotational) plane. Some baseball players are average sprinters and leapers but rotate like a tornado.

Don't get me wrong. You'll be hard pressed to find a high level athlete that's horrible in any one aspect. I'm sure Lebron, for example, can likely apply rotational force far better than the average Joe, but not the average baseball player.

So this brings me to the point of what a baseball player can do to develop rotational power. Throwing and hitting are short, powerful, asymmetrical, rotational movements, and THIS is the heart of sport-specific training for baseball.

Is sprinting and plyometric jump training in the sagittal plane justified for baseball players? You bet. But there needs to be more. Where do the traditional resistance training methods fit in, and how exactly do we train the transverse plane for strength and power?

Part 2 coming soon.

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