With the festivities of last weekend involving a near “performance training” throw-down at little league opening day I thought I would take a minute to talk about sport specific training for baseball players.
And I don’t mean stupidity like this…
These guys are unreal. Yet it seems to make sense right? Mimic the moves in baseball with weight to get better at baseball. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While most amateur trainers and coaches see it like that, sport specific training is actually un-doing whatever damages are being done by that specific sport. Or avoiding any other potential injury caused by that sport. So throwing footballs at a kid on a treadmill isn’t sport specific, it’s dangerous and stupid much like swinging around chains or barbells to mimic baseball. The top priority of any training program should be injury reduction. NOT performance. Injury reduction comes first.
So what does this mean for baseball? For baseball this means if I’m training a baseball player, I’m looking at a guy who really destroys his shoulder with his sport, yet needs a lot of rotational power to be great at it. So first priority is taking care of his shoulder. That means we’re going to be doing tons of T-Spine (upper back) mobility work, combined with scapular stabilizing movements. Each player has his own issues to work on, but for the most part those are the issues we’re looking at. Next we look at what this player shouldn’t be doing.
Yes, sport specific for baseball = what exercises to avoid. First off we’re not going to shoulder press or military press. I’ll keep it simple and stay away from the anatomy: not everyone’s shoulder blades are made for overhead pressing, and I can’t tell you should or shouldn’t, therefore, we’re just not going to do it. There is nothing to be gained from it that’s worth the risk of screwing up a shoulder. Another one on the banned list is front squats. I like the movement, I don’t like where the bar is located. Right on your A-C joint. The risk of increasing any impingement isn’t worth the reward; there are much safer knee dominant movements we can be doing.
Next we move on to rotational power development. If you’re thinking smashing medicine balls up against the wall you are absolutely correct. “Because it mimics my Ken Griffey Jr. Instructo-Swing 1500?!?!?!”
We’re not mimicking any throws or swings. We are simply working on developing rotational power which is required for both throwing and swinging in baseball. We’re doing a lot more than just throwing medicine balls, but while non-throwing athletes need to be learning the olympic lifts for power development, baseball players need the medicine balls. One more thought to end on is going to be the components of power. Speed and strength. My point, you have to be strong to be powerful. Don’t skip real strength training in favor of ridiculous exercises that look like the sport you play.