Yesterday I wrote the first installment of this series and had a lot of great feedback. If you haven’t read it already, I would highly suggest reading that before moving on to Part II. You can find it here: High School Spring Training & What I Took Out of It – Part I.
Part I discussed the importance of how speed can take a player from average to above average. This doesn’t just mean straight speed from point A to point B but also first-step explosiveness, athleticism in the field, agility, lateral quickness, footwork, as well as closing speed especially for outfielders.
I LIFT THINGS UP AND I PUT THEM DOWN!
Today I’d like to discuss the importance of STRENGTH! I’m not talking about the “how much can you bench press” type strength (although having that type of strength is not necessarily a bad thing), but more so functional strength. The game of baseball is rotational in nature. You rotate when you swing, you rotate your body to get to the ball in the field, and you rotate your body to throw the ball. A player has to be able to transfer power from toes to fingertips on almost every play and they have to do it quickly and under control/balanced. Think about it…
Pitchers go from “rocker step” in the windup to releasing the ball off their fingertips, catchers catch the ball from a squat position and transfer energy out the fingertips to release the ball when throwing out potential basestealers, hitters load & stride with their lower body and hit the ball with a bat held in their fingers, etc, etc.
The game of baseball has changed. It’s no longer a game that players can just get away with doing a few pushups, situps, run long distances, and do some light weight shoulder work. There are far more 90+ mph throwers than there ever were before. This is due to the evolution of strength training for the baseball player. Some of the best baseball trainers are the ones who are not afraid to implement heavier loads into a player’s routine, as long as they prove healthy enough to do so from the start.
One of the first things I noticed in our group of players in Florida was that a lot of them have nice swings, but there is a serious lack of “pop” and explosion off the bat. These guys have been training in hitting cages since November and see the ball jump off their bat for about 10-15 feet before it hits a net. It might sound and look great in a cage, but it’s a whole other story when you’re outdoors and there is nothing to hold the ball back until the outfield fence that sits 330+ feet away. Many players were simply not strong enough to DRIVE the ball through the gaps.
One of the last nights we were there I began compiling a few bullet points that I could share with each player on what they need to do most to improve. After the first 4 players I realized that just about every single kid on the trip AND outside the trip for that matter needed to get serious about a strength & conditioning program. People tend to just throw out the term “strength & conditioning” without quite understanding what that means and/or the difference between strength AND conditioning. You don’t have to look too far for a great strength coach either. There are a number of extremely reputable strength trainers in our area including the guys over at Elite Health & Fitness in Stoughton as well as Edge Performance Systems in Foxboro, MA. You can also find trainers for great speed & agility work right in our building at Premier Athlete Training.
I will be getting to Part III of this piece soon which will address the conditioning part of strength & conditioning as well as proper nutrition.
Stay tuned and as always, please let me know if you have questions or feed back at firstname.lastname@example.org!