Weight Training & Baseball

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    Weight Training & Baseball


    From the Wisdom of YellowJacket

    Well men, its about that time of year. If you havent already been put on a weight training/conditioning program, well dont expect to have a very good season. Those who know I played professional baseball for 16 months, send me PMs on a regular basis asking for assistance with baseball in regards to training and supplements. Here I will cover the training aspect to a successful baseball season.

    First off, let me start by saying this: I was a very good high school baseball player. I was a pitcher. I had a great build but hell, so did most of my teammates. I stood out because I was smart, quick, knew the situations and had excellent hand-eye coordination. This was great. I didnt have to work that hard physically to be one of the better players around. After my senior year, I was signed to minor league baseball by the Pittsburg Pirates organization, and boy was I in for a surprise. Not many of you, if any, want to hear my life story, but this will be crucial to the rest of my article.

    When I got to spring practice, I was the smallest person there as opposed to being one of the biggest. To make a long story short, I lasted 16 months and was cut. Why? Just so happens at this level everyone is as equally intelligent in the situations as you are, everyone is just as quick as you. What separates the men from the boys is your size, and strength. Now heres what you need to know:

    Conditioning

    -Is established that baseball isnt much of a cardiovascular sport. Its a mind game and skill game. Hitting a 92mph fastball with a 2 1/4 inch barrel of a wooden bat from 60 feet away is by far the most difficult skill in all of sports. You have no choice but to be in top physical shape. You do your drills in practice, your running, etc. To be a successful baseball player and take it to the next level its essential you take things upon yourself and condition even more. What you do in practice is not enough. You have to make your own time and sacrifice to do conditioning on your own.

    1. Some aspects of conditioning.

    Dumb ass coaches. I was fortunate enough to have a coach who was CSCS certified and highly intelligent in strength and conditioning. How many of you guys warm up with running laps around the field, condition by running on the treadmill or around the field? When punished, coach makes you run laps? Well let me make this clear... your coach is a dumbass. Think about this: When in a game will you run 1/4 of a mile? Never. Practice like you play. The only way to get faster is to run fast. Want to improve your time getting down the line to 1st base? Why the hell would you run laps around the field? Granted this falls back on ignorant coaches. If you have a good relationship with your coach, get him OUTSIDE of practice and leth im know, if you dont have a good relationship, dont mention it, but take it upon yourself to run your 10-12 reps down the line. Its all about stimulating the proper Muscle Fibers.

    2. Stretching- This may be more important in baseball than any other sport. Whether you pitch, play outfield or infield, stretching is essential. I emphasize it to an extreme on occasion. 65% of baseball related injuries occur from tight muscles, bound up where flexibility is absent (1). Cant have a real good season if you're not playing right? Or if you're playing injured, you're more than likely embarassing yourself. Stretching is stretching people, nothing fancy. Make sure to hit all the muscles. Baseball, like most sports, use all muscle structures. The groin, shoulder, abdominals, back, quads (hamstrings) are especially important. You strain a large muscle group, you're done.

    3. Cardiovascular. I pretty much summed up what I wanted to say about cardiovascular and baseball. But I'd like to make another important point. Calisthenics and motion drills are very important, in all sports really. Replicate the motion you will be commiting to. If you play infield, laterl shifts are crucial. Work on balancing and shifting your weight from side to side in a gym or even at home. Success is dependant upon the work you're willing to put it. Hell yes these are boring as hell, hell yes they get old, hell yes they burn and hurt, but let me tell you, being mediocre is ****ty. Everyone can be average. Raise the bar. If you play outfield, work out running to cones without looking at them directly. This replicated keeping your eye on the ball, yet knowing where you are on the field. More on this later..

    Weight Training

    -The part you've all been waiting for. How many of you hear this: "You dont want to lift havy and bulk up, makes you slower". Oh boy, next time you do, out of respect for common knowledge, kick them in the nuts. Although this is true to an extent. Who remembers Ron Gant? The monster of a basebal player, hueg and ripped as hell.... he was very good for the Braves, anyone know why he's a piece of **** now? He's too big. He said himself in an interview that his bicep heads rubbed his pecs causing friction thus slowing down his swing, thus not being able to touch a fastball over 80mph. How to avoid this? Stretch! Do your workout, then stretch. Baseball players rely more on strength than mass, this isnt the Olympia, and you can impress people will you play, not your physique.
    As for actual weight training, here's where it gets sticky. If you're a position player (not a pitcher) stick to you heavy, compound movements, yes, even you fat ass first baseman. You want strength and flexibility. Weight lifting and stretching gives you the best of both world. Nothing fancy. The most important muscles you must target are: the back, quads, rear delt, abdominals, low back, buttocks, forearms. These are physiologically the most important muscles for swinging and throwing. Make them stronger! Exercises like the following will be most beneficial: (2)

    Back:
    Bend over barbell row
    Back extensions w/ weight
    Wide grip pulls ups

    Quads:
    Squats
    Extensions

    Shoulders (rear delt):
    Machine Rows
    Shrugs
    Lateral raises

    Forearms:
    Anything isolated

    Abdominals:
    Ab Routine

    Buttocks:
    Walking lunges

    **Exercises to avoid:
    1. Those damn rotating shrugs. This is for anyone really, but especially baseball players. DO NOT rotate your arms when doing shurgs, no matter what Billy Blanks told you. You have a capsule that your humerus sets in, in the glenohumeral joint (shoulder joint) and you have a dense cartilage capsule is sits in, this grinding with added weight will deteriorate that capsule, leading to a seemingly untreatedable complication.
    2. Any exercise where weight is lifted over your head (ie. military presses). This also adds strain to your glenohumeral capsule and should be avoided. Nothing is ever lifted over your head in the game of baseball anyway, so military presses are out.

    For Pitchers
    * Your training is much different than the commoners (sorry, Im partial). You actually want to run laps and miles and on the treadmill. As you guys know, your arms get fatigued, tired and worn out often from pitching and throwing. That sore arms is 'wearing down' of the muscle fibers from stress of throwing your arm towards the plate. Think about it, that shear force is brutal, not just on the shoulder for the bicep as well. Running will pump blood to the injury site quickly. You all should know the physiological reason for blood healing damaged tissue, so I wont go into that. But running extra and often for pitchers is a good things.
    Also, your weight training is much different. You want to weight train and condition as you would play. Pitchers tough the ball every play, will throw anywhere from 40-100 pitches a game (anymore than that in high school and your coach is a fool and an ******* and is hurting you more than helping you). You want to 'endurance' train. Up your reps, lower your sets. Thats about as basic as I want to take it, should need no explaination. Possible the most important muscle to the pitcher is the quadriceps. Coaches often dont allow players to do squats, because they're deemed 'worthless' in baseball. Yea, riiiight. Do you guys know where you generate your power to throw hard? Do you know why there is even a pitching rubber? So you can push off, your quads do that pushing off, thats where all your power is generated. If you want to throw the proverbial 'heat', then you better develope some monster quads. Look at Bartolo Colon, if you arent tall (Randy Johnson) and want to throw hard, get some big, thick quads. Colon is what? 5'7? He has tree trunk quads and throws just as hard and more often than not, harder than any pitcher he faces. All in the quads men.

    The last thing I'll touch on in this weight training case is the question I get: "YJ, what one exercise can I do do get my arms stronger to throw people out from the outfield?"

    Simple answer really. Throw, throw, throw, throw. How do you develope a more accurate, over all better shot in basketball? Shooting over and over. How do you become more accurate and stonger as a QB? Throw and throw. Get those rotator cuff muscles stronger by repetition. Throw the ball, practice. Have someone stand at homeplate and hit you fly balls, catch them and throw them in. Do 50-100 a day. That WILL get your arm stronger and much more accurate if you take it seriously. Just like hitting, want to be a better hit? Hot, over and over. 400 balls a day. Go to the field, a batting cage, or just your back yard, Work on your swing, perfect it.
    Although I will not touch on the aspects of skill in baseball and how to perform the various movements and situations, this is a strength and training article, not 'How to play baseball' but I will say this... coaches preach and preach and preach execution and perfection of techinque for a reason. If you perform the action correctly, theres where the full enefits of strength come into play. Example: the outfield crow hop. Get that damn leg up there, use more than your arm, you'll throw out double the base runners with a nice crow hop and getting your legs involved, you're just much stronger with thr addition of your legs, face it.

    Injuries and Rehab

    The taboo area. To each his own. I do things differently than others so I'll be very general here. Stretching! Stretching! The most common muscle injury in baseball is an injury to the rotator cuff (RC), from mild strains to complete tears, the most common. You use it everytime you throw, everytime you swing. If you hurt your RC while pitching or throwing, well your swing is going to. When I pitched, I couldnt hit for nothing because my arm would be so sore (thus the DH in the American League, should in the National league too for injury purposes, but I wont go there). The RC is made up of 4 sections: Remember *S.I.T.S*

    *S. Supra spinatus
    *I. Infra spinatus
    *T: Teres Minor
    *S: subscapularis

    If you injure just one of these, the rest will follow if you continue to play. If you feel you've hurt one (will be obvious I would think), get it looked. Muscle guarding will take over. You hurt one, the others will compensate until they're overloaded and breakdown too. The pitchers demise. Tommy John surgery sucks fellas, I have 2 friends who had it, they'll never play again.

    *The last thing I want to mention about injury is Stretching! No, but really, Ice. I also shouldnt have to go into the benefits of icing. Coaches, hell even the commentary crew mention this for a reason. And a lot of you guys are like me "Icing sucks, its boring, its cold, it makes my arm numb, it doesnt even do anything" Bull**** I cry! Once you grow up, you'll learn, for now take my word for it. 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off, 20 minutes back on (3) is the prefered method and I followed it, no arm trouble ever. This is also the major league recommendation. Ice is ytour best friend. For most injuries, ice is the most adequate form of 'medicine'
    Ok, one final piece of advice. Weight training and strength will not prevent arm soreness and fatigue. Will help greatly however, but not total prevention. It will come, especially in the early stages of practice. Your coach should have sense enough to know this and take it easy on you until your muscles and neurological functions adapt. On that noter, I say this: No matter how hurt, how sore, how fatigued you are DO NOT ingest Tylonol or other pain killers. These are deceptive and give the illusion you are fine and are in no pain. And you arent, but that arm and those tendons and those muscles are still breaking down, catabolizing and when that pain killer wears off, you'll be in tears and thats the good part, the bad part, you're injured. You will have to rely on those pain killers to make it though the games to come. Because you didnt listen to your natural response system to tell you "hey man, let up a little bit" now you have a strain, or tear even. Avoid them at all costs, or at least until the end of the game or practice.

    This is seemingly all I have to offer at this point but I think this is rather lengthy and answers a lot of questions. If you have anymore, drop me a PM. To sum things up- Remember to stretch, play like you practice, know the game and situations, dont ever give up...you never know whos watching YOU not the team, and play to win or dont play at all.

    References

    (1) Peterson, Roberts. Annual atheletic injury report. Athletic Training Journal.

    (2) With help from Coach Craig Taylor ATC, CSCS, Former Parkersburg High varsity baseball coach

    (3) Williamson, Jason. Repetitive Injury Prevention Among Professional Baseball Players. Athletic Training Journal.
    Last edited by YellowJacket; 02-11-2003 at 10:38 PM.

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    Sheesh's Avatar
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    Excellent advice for those who play baseball. I, however, have dropped it in favor of football.

    Wow...you learn something new about YJ everyday. You played MLB ball? That's ****ing awesome. What team? ****, maybe I've got one of your baseball cards somewhere amongst my seemingly endless collection (a few years ago I was a card freak, i haven't bought cards in the past 3 years, but in the 4 years that I collected I got somewhere near 35,000 cards...)
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    Originally posted by Sheesh
    Excellent advice for those who play baseball. I, however, have dropped it in favor of football.

    Wow...you learn something new about YJ everyday. You played MLB ball? That's ****ing awesome. What team? ****, maybe I've got one of your baseball cards somewhere amongst my seemingly endless collection (a few years ago I was a card freak, i haven't bought cards in the past 3 years, but in the 4 years that I collected I got somewhere near 35,000 cards...)
    Ha, thanks brother, doubtful though. I should elaborate a little more on my "career". I was signed, player Spring ball with the Pirates for 2 1/2 months. Didnt fair that well, chose to 'take a leave' and persure college as I didnt figure I would go big time or whatever, went back to baseball the next summer, played spring ball again, made 1 minor league start, and was eventually released out of my contract at my request. Wasnt the life for me. Why be mediocre at something you like, when you can be great at something you love?
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