Strength & Training During the Baseball Season
Major League Baseball starts in full force March 26th with a full slate of games. The college baseball season has been underway for weeks and high school baseball is about to begin for the non-warm weather states. Most baseball players have been diligent in their strength training during the off-season. Strength Coaches and Baseball Coaches understand that it’s important for players to continue their strength training exercise while the season is going on.
Many of the gains made during the off-season can start to diminish if proper in-season training is neglected. For baseball players, maintaining strength throughout the spring is crucial for their performance on the field. With the right approach to training, players will be primed and ready for each and every game.
A recent article on VeryWellFit.com, written by personal trainer Paul Rogers, provides tips on in-season baseball strength training. Rogers emphasizes that for baseball players, maintaining arm strength is everything—and not just for pitchers. “Training must be designed to strengthen and protect the throwing arm and shoulder at the same time,” he writes.
An article on batsfinder.com suggests these seven exercises to build and maintain arm strength for baseball players:
• Dumbbell Curls: 3 to 5 sets every day
• Bench Press for Triceps: 3 to 5 sets a day
• This Wrist-Throwing Exercise: 1) Include your forearm at 90-degrees to your shoulder and hold a baseball in your hand; 2) Support your elbow with the other hand; and 3) Throw the baseball by using only your wrist.
• Long-Distance Throwing: Practice 20 to 30 throws on 30-feet distance, then 20 to 30 throws on 60-feet distance and then the same on the 90-feet distance.
• 45-Degree Raises, in which you hold a 5-pound dumbbell in each hand so that your arms are extended on your both sides and the hands are facing inward, then raise each hand at a 45-degree angle and bring your arms to shoulder height without losing the fixed position of the elbows.
• Push-Ups: 3 sets every day
• Fast Tossing: Work with another player, stand about 10 feet apart, and rapidly tossing a baseball to and from between each other
THROUGH IT ALL, REMEMBER THESE 7 RULES
Strength coach John O’Neal of Cressey Sports Performance shares seven simple yet effective ways for players to maintain strength throughout the baseball season.
1. Maintain Body Weight
According to O’Neal, Rates of Force Development (RFD) are a key factor in athletic performance, and athletes with more weight are generally more likely to produce greater force. That means it’s very important to maintain weight throughout the season. This can be difficult for some players, so they should bring food to the field, stay properly hydrated, and potentially have something to eat mid-game.
2. Manage Stress
It’s important to balance time on the field with time in the weight-room. During the season, players will often be practicing out on the field, which doesn’t leave much time for other types of strength training. O’Neal recommends sneaking weight-room sessions in on the same days you have extensive on-field work in order to balance high-stress days with low-stress days. That means certain days will be more demanding, but it will still allow for the same amount of off days for rest and recovery, which is key to reducing stress on the body.
3. Keep Sessions Short
It can help to keep weight-room sessions short during the season, for multiple reasons. For one, you want to allow for adequate on-field training. Secondly, three or four 20-40 sessions throughout the week are enough to maintain strength without over-exerting your players. Be sure to design full-body workouts so that athletes can hit all the key areas.
4. Know the Right Intensity
Athletes don’t need to be sore after a workout in order to build or maintain strength. In fact, during the season, constant soreness will only limit a player’s ability to perform at a high level. In order to reduce soreness, try to avoid brand-new exercises during these sessions and avoiding high amounts of eccentric stress. This might mean slightly modifying certain exercises so that it reduces some of the stress being put on the athletes.
5. Don’t Waste Energy
The season is a grind and having enough energy to both train and perform in games is key. When it comes to in-season training, focus should be put on quality over quantity. As players become fatigued, they are likely to start using bad form and technique, so it’s important that you stop doing reps once technique starts to suffer. This is just as true for on-field reps, such as swings and throws, as it is for exercises in the weight-room.
6. Condition Correctly
Baseball is a sport of short, quick action with a lot of rest in between. Therefore, endurance running will do little to help players prepare for the demands of the game. Instead, focus on keeping speed work fast with adequate rest time between reps. This will help to mimic the actual nature of the game.
7. Maintain Mobility
To translate training in the weight-room to performance on the field, players will need to have adequate mobility. According to O’Neal, having a mobility/stretching routine before and after every practice can go a long way in helping to keep players healthy and performing their best. These only have to be about five minutes each for players to reap the benefits.