Game Strength Insider Baseball Training
I just got back from the batting cages with a couple of buddies of mine, and is got me thinking. A baseball training program should incorporate a strength training component. Strength is crucial for baseball success. The two primary reasons for this are to develop explosive power and to protect against injury (especially arm injuries).
Many players neglect to develop explosive power. The reasons for this are varied. Some don’t know how. Some have tried lifting weights, and become injured (doing the wrong kind of baseball weight training). Some don’t think it’s important (guess again!).
In baseball training, little things add up to make a huge difference. If you add even a small increase in your power, your game will improve in all areas.
Here are some general guidelines for baseball training:
1. Use a variety of weight training methods such as free weights, body weight, medicine ball, kettlebells and surgical tubing exercises.
2. Avoid pressing movements with heavy weights (risky for the shoulder).
3. Train your lower body with heavier weights.
4. Train your upper body with lighter weights.
5. Never forget to train the core of the body (hips, buttocks, lower back).
6. You must take special care to strengthen your rotator cuff muscles using light (3-5 lb) weights.
Your aim with baseball training is to build functional strength. Baseball is a sport that requires you to stop, start, and explode. It’s a sport dependent on explosive bursts of power, and reactions. You must train your body to be strong at a variety of angles and planes. Every player bends, twists, and throws, but
if you’re a baseball pitcher, these are the three keys you need to master to dominate the competition.
Medicine balls are an excellent baseball training tool. A solid medicine ball routine will build explosive power, and teach your muscles to work together as one tightly knit unit. I’d start with an 8 or 9 pounder.
Here are a couple of suggestions:
1. Find a place where you have a solid wall and about 10 feet of ceiling height. Hold the medicine ball in both hands at chest height like a basketball player about to make a chest pass. At the same time, squat down and leap off the ground. Jump up in the air and push the ball up as high as you can against the wall. Quickly retrieve the ball and continue the drill for 30 seconds. See how many you can complete.
2. Grab the medicine ball with your hands underneath. Squat down so that your thighs come parallel with the ground (the ball is held with your arms dangling in front of your body. When you squat down, they almost touch the ground). Leap up off the ground, and at the same time, thrust the ball up in the air (watch that you don’t get hit by the ball as it comes down!). Do as many as you can in 30 seconds.
Both of these above drills will build incredible strength and power. They are excellent for baseball training.
Weight lifting routines for baseball can be tricky. Iâve seen many a baseball player make the mistake of trying to lift too much weight with various overhead lifts. This can lead to a potential injury to the rotator cuff (the muscles in the shoulder that basically keep your arm in the shoulder socket) – pretty darn important for a baseball player, crazy right?
Let me clear something up right now. If you can’t throw a baseball (or you can’t throw it very well), then to keep it real, youâre not much value to your team. I don’t hear of too many designated hitters being recruited by colleges or signed to Major League contracts.
So, when weâre weight training for baseball we should avoid any overhead lifts with heavy weights.
What do I recommend for baseball training? Let’s start with lower body.
Exercises such as the squat, deadlift, and leg press are some of the best for the lower body. Heavier weights are okay here, but find a solid spotter. Learn to do the lifts correctly!
Also try doing weighted and noweighted lunges (at different angles), and single leg squats (these are very difficult). These two lower body exercises build excellent strength and flexibility in the core area. And, that’s crucial for baseball training.
Take care of your arm! Your baseball career depends on your arm. Iâm sure I am going to sound like a broken record but don’t neglect your rotator cuff exercises. The rotator cuff is made up of four small muscles. They respond very well to very light weights (3-5 lbs), and higher reps, say 15-20.
Surgical tubing is one of the best ways to build up your rotator cuff. You should do exercises several times a week. There are dozens of good rotator exercises. Iâve listed a few of my favorites/the best one to perform. You’ll find one you’ll like below.
Your baseball training *must* include the rotator cuff.
Oh, one more thing. Always stretch out your arm (rotators) before you start throwing (and afterwards). And, if you’re a pitcher, I recommend you get out the surgical tubing and get a little work in with it too before you throw. Give yourself every edge and advantage with your baseball training.
GSI Rotator Cuff Exercises:
Rotator Cuff Exercises with Dumbbells
Dumbbells are a great way to strengthen the rotator cuff. And since the rotator cuff muscles are so small 1-5 pound dumbbells are usually heavy enough for most exercises.
One of the main motions of the rotator cuff is external rotation. This is simply when you shoulder rotates out to the side. You can perform external rotation from many positions but the main 2 positions are the neutral position of the shoulder and the abducted (shoulder raised to 90 degrees) position.
Neutral Position External Rotation Exercises
You can perform external rotation exercises from many positions, and one of the classic positions is lying on your side.
Side-lying Dumbbell External Rotation
Starting Position: Begin by lying on your side. You can use a bench if you’re in the gym or the floor/ mat if you’re at home. Your hand and arm should be next to your body.
Form: Exhale and rotate your forearm away from your body. Hold briefly at the top and then slowly lower to the starting position.
Standing Dumbbell External Rotation
Starting Position: Begin by standing with dumbbells in your hands. Bring your arms out to the side at 90 degrees and have your hands facing the floor.
Form: Exhale and rotate your shoulders so that your forearms are in-line with your ears. Hold briefly and then slowly lower to the starting position. Perform 8-15 repetitions.
Tips: Move in a slow and controlled manner, and use a weight that allows you to maintain good form throughout the set.
Rotator Cuff Exercises: Supine Internal Rotation from an Abducted Position
Starting Position: Begin by lying on a bench with your feet up to support your lower back. While holding a dumbbell, bring your arm out to the side to about 90 degrees and keep your arm perpendicular to the floor.
Form: Inhale and slowly allow the dumbbell to move towards the floor. Hold for a brief second when your arm gets parallel to the floor, and then exhale and rotate your arm until it’s perpendicular to the floor.
Tips: In this exercise, your upper arm should stay in the same position throughout, so focus on only letting your shoulder rotate backwards and forwards.
Move in a slow and controlled manner, and use a comfortable range of motion. You don’t have to let the dumbbell go backwards as far as possible. Stop once you get to about 90 degrees (parallel to the floor).
If you allow your arm to rotate too far backwards you will place increased pressure on the shoulder.
Cables or Resistance Bands External Rotation
The Cables or Resistance Bands offer a different feel to dumbbells because there is constant tension throughout the range of motion with cables and a building level of tension throughout the range of motion with resistance bands.
Since external rotation is one of the main actions of the rotator cuff, many rehab programs start with resistance band external rotations from the neutral position. However, when resistance bands become too easy, some gym goers move on to cables in order to further increase the resistance and strength.
Neutral Position Cable Shoulder Internal Rotation
Starting Position: Begin by adjusting a cable machine so that the handle is a little higher than your waist.
Hold the handle and bend your elbow to 90 degrees. Step away from the machine so that there is a little tension in the starting position.
Form: Exhale and rotate your shoulder in towards the center of your body. Hold for a brief second and then slowly lower to the starting position.
Tips: Do your best to keep your shoulder next to your body– don’t let your elbow move too far out to the side.
Move in a slow and controlled manner so that momentum doesn’t take over. Especially focus on slowly returning to the starting position.
Resistance Band Exercises: Neutral External Rotation
The neutral position for your shoulder is simply with your arm at your side. The shoulder is more stable in this position when compared to the abducted position (when the arm is raised out to the side). Master this exercise first before moving on to the next exercise.
Starting Position: Position a resistance band around a sturdy object so that is about the height of your hand. Stand with your elbow bent to 90 degrees.
Form: Exhale as you rotator your arm out to the side and away from your body. Hold for a brief second and then slowly return to the starting position.
Tips: Make sure you keep your elbow bent at 90 degrees throughout the motion and focus on turning your shoulder out. If you straighten your elbow during this exercise, you will shift emphasis to the triceps and away from the shoulder and rotator cuff.
Resistance Band Exercises: Abducted External Rotation
The abducted position simply means that the shoulder is out to the side and away from your body. The shoulder is less stable in this position when compared the the neutral position above.
Since we have to lift and raise our arms overhead it is also important to strengthen your rotator cuff muscles in this position also.
Starting Position: Stand on one end of the resistance band, and hold your arm out to the side to about 90 degrees with your palm facing down.
Form: Exhale and rotate your shoulder so that palm is facing forwards. Hold for a brief second and then lower to the starting position.
Tips: Make sure that you keep your arm out to the side at 90 degrees throughout the movement.
Be mindful of the position of your neck and shoulder. Avoid shrugging your shoulders upwards, by keeping your shoulder blade down and backwards.
We canât forget about the rest of the upper body, and no baseball conditioning program would be complete without good old-fashioned push-ups. Push-ups are great for a lot of things especially baseball.
Why you askâ¦? ..Because they strengthen the rotator cuff, and the rest of your shoulder (arm strength), as well as your chest, and arm muscles. They give you an awesome return on your “sweat equity.” Try a wide variety like wide grip, diamond, and narrow, eventually even work your way up to 1 arm push ups.
Personally believe that push ups are better for you than bench presses but both are beneficial. If you must bench press, only use dumbbells. And, avoid heavy weights. Again, the risk of injury to the shoulder is ever-present, especially with a barbell. So, if you’re going to bench press, use dumbbells with a spotter.
Next, you need to do some chin-ups. Do them both with palms facing forward and towards you. These are difficult (most people can only do 3 or 4), but again, you get a lot of bang for your buck with this body weight exercise.
Don’t be the one that underestimates the value of body weight exercises like lunges, push-ups and chin-ups. Try them. You’ll be amazed with what a regular, simple body-weight routine can do for you. Not to mention the risk of injury is minimal.
Before I forget, kettle bells can also be an excellent for baseball training. In particular, for the lower body. Kettlebell swings build explosive power in the hips, buttocks, and legs (builds great stamina too). These muscles generate the explosive power and speed you’re after. I’d avoid the overhead snatches, and clean and jerks, but the lower body lifts and other core area exercises would be ideal.
How To Hit A Baseball Harder. 11 Surefire Steps To Home-Runs
I have trained quite a few baseball players over the years, and most often time the first question in regards to the training is âhow can I hit the ball farther?â This is usually followed by a look indicating the expectation of a quick answer and a simple solution. Obviously you want to improve your power as much as possible, but where should you start and how should you go about this? I think itâs pretty simple actually. See what you think:
1.Â Â Â Â First things first, youâre going to need to strengthen your upper body. The more strength you have in your swing, the further you will be able to hit the ball. Thereâs more to it than this, but this is the first step you can take so naturally this is where we will start. If you havenât already begin lifting weights and working out to get your upper body in shape and ready to swing the bat. (I have listed my favorite baseball strength training workouts that my athletes have had the most success with over the years following these steps.)
2.Â Â Â Â Find a good stance.Test stances out to see what is comfortable and see which one gets the ball flying the furthest out into the outfield. Even if you have an unusual stance, use it if youâre comfortable and get results. In general, try standing with your feet shoulder length apart, and also in a way that when you swing the bat, it swings level to the ground.
3.Â Â Â Â Find somewhere additional to practice. The batting cages are a great place to do this,Â because you don’t have to have someone throw balls to you all the time. Also, you have a better chance of having a ball come over the strike zone to give you the best opportunity to hit it. The balls are thrown at a relatively consistent speed, and you will have your choice of a slow pitched, medium pitched, or fast pitched baseball or Softball.
4.Â Â Â Â Practice, practice, and more practice. The more you swing the bat, the more you will develop the muscles, and pathways in the brain that are used for hitting the ball. The more balls you hit, the more coordination you will develop for maintaining accuracy and being able to time the ball right to hit it harder.
5.Â Â Â Â It’s all about timing your swing. Swing too early and you’ll either miss the ball or tap it weakly to the infield. Swing too late and your power will be dissipated. Timing is about practice. The more pitches you see, the better you’ll be able to time the baseball. A perfectly timed swing will result in a hard line drive to centerfield whether you like it or not 😉
6.Â Â Â Â Put more of your body into the swing. To do this, lean towards your back foot. Then you can move your body forward to get more power behind the swing.
7.Â Â Â Â Swing quicker. The quicker your swing, the further the ball will go after you make contact. When practicing, try swinging faster so that you can accomplish this. I know your probably thinking duh, keep in mind that if you increase the speed of your swing, you’ll have to adjust your timing.
8.Â Â Â Â Hit the ball with the right spot on the bat. You want the ball to make contact with the bat on the center of the upper part of the bat. If you hit the edge of the bat, you won’t get as much power. This takes practice like most things and coaching. Having someone watch you and give you feedback is highly beneficial Iâve even had guys videotape themselves and see where theyâre hitting the ball with the bat.
9.Â Â Â Â Use a heavier bat during part of your practice. Basically what this does for you is get you used to having a harder swing, so when you use a lighter bat, youâll be able to swing faster and harder. It’s like if you train for a long distance race, and you run five miles every day so that when you run the one mile race it’s like a hop, skip and jump to the finish line.
10.Â Use the appropriate bat for your size and strength. You can use a heavier bat for practice, and even as a warmup for swinging before you actually step out onto the field for a game. However, when you get ready to hit the ball as hard as possible, you want a bat that works best for you. Find one that is the correct length and weight by trying different bats out until youâre comfortable.
11.Â Â Hold the bat correctly. The better grip you have on the bat, the more strength you’ll be able to put into your swing. Find hands positions that are comfortable for you. Then, experiment with other ways to see if they give you more power. In general, if you hold your hands away from the bottom of the bat, you should get a quicker swing.
The Baseball Player’s Exercise Workout
Day 1: Legs and Abs.
Squat: 4 sets of 15 reps
Stiff-Leg Dead lifts: 3 sets of 12 reps
Hamstring Curl: 3 sets of 12 reps
Leg Extension: 2 sets of 10 reps
Walking Lunge: 2 sets of 20 steps
Leg Lifts: 1 set of 30 reps
Crunches: 2 sets of 15 reps
Oblique Twists: 1 set of 25 reps
Reverse Crunches: 1 set of 30 reps
Day 2: Arms and Chest
Close-Grip Bench Press: 4 sets of 8 reps
Flies: 2 sets of 12 reps
Tri Pushdowns: 3 sets of 10 reps
Skull Crushers: 2 sets of 12 reps
Overhead Dumbbell Extension: 3 sets of 10 reps
Tri Pull downs: 2 sets of 8 reps
Forearm Curls: 4 sets of 10 reps
Wrist Curls: 4 sets of 10 reps
Day 3: Shoulders and Back
As you can see, we are stressing high repetitions baseball. This is especially important for pitchers that throw 50-125 pitches per game.
GSI Drills To Help Your Game
30-yard Dash – Many uninformed coaches advocate running laps around the field. I may be misinformed, but I have never ran Â¼ mile during any particular game. To increase your speed, you need to practice what you will do on the field. By running 30 yards, you mimic the base-to-base run.
Throwing With A Weighted Ball – By throwing with a heavier ball, you strengthen your shoulder and more importantly your rotator cuff. When you pick up a regulation ball it will feel lighter and you will be able to throw it further. The weighted ball works in the same way a heavy warm-up bat works.
Long Toss – Long Toss is a proven way to strengthen the arm. Humans are very adaptive by nature. If you practice throwing the ball far, your arm will get stronger and be able to reach the distance without that as much effort. Do long toss every other day. If your arm is sore, wait and do it every third day.
The information and exercises in this article will bring your game to the next level. Stay up on your diet and make time for recovery. Remember, although baseball may seem all upper-body, the real power and strength lies in your core and legs.