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Baseball and Softball is a power sport in which most action on the field occurs quickly, with bursts of acceleration and top speed, followed by long periods of rest. (Read more on STACK'S Baseball Page.) So when considering conditioning for baseball and softball, coaches should look to mimic the demands of the sport. As a baseball or softball athlete, you need to consider two important aspects of your training: total body strength and explosive power.
But first, consider the muscle imbalances caused naturally by the sport. For example, you swing the bat from one side. You run around the bases in one direction. You plant with the same foot over and over to throw. This means strength imbalances in your quads, hamstrings, forearms, chest, shoulders and back—all the key baseball/softball muscles—naturally develop and must be corrected during training.
As for the importance of explosive power, consider that all action in baseball or softball occurs in short bursts. Each athletic movement takes place for less than a second (swinging a bat) to about 10 seconds (catching a fly ball).
It's no secret that baseball and softball weight training and plyometrics like lateral jumps and medicine ball throws will help you develop baseball/softball-specific power. But where does conditioning fit in? That's a question players and coaches have been debating for years. Baseball and Softball players require specific conditioning. To understand how players should condition, you have to understand the science behind how the body produces energy.
Condition how you play
It takes about a second to deliver a pitch or swing a bat and about 15 seconds between pitches. Baseball and Softball conditioning should be similar. Short, repeated bouts of intense exercise build baseball/softball-specific endurance and increase peak power. That said, sprints and throws should make up the bulk of a player's exercise program.
To train the phosphagen system, keep the work intervals short (6-8 seconds) and rest periods about 40-60 seconds. For example:
· 40-Yard Sprints x 8-10 reps, 40 seconds rest between reps
· Medicine Ball Slams x 6-8 reps, 50 seconds rest between sets
· Sled Push x 20 yards x 8-10 reps, 60 seconds rest between reps
These are just a few examples, follow the links on this page to read and learn about more baseball and softball specific strength and condition drills. Thoroughbred Baseball and Softball Academy strongly recommends that all players work with professional trainers and design an off-season workout best suited to each individual.
7 REASONS WHY BASEBALL AND SOFTBALL PLAYERS NEED STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING TRAINING
1. Injury Prevention
You could be the best pitcher or player in the world, but if you can’t stay on the field due to an injury none of that talent matters. Overhand throwing athletes (IE baseball players) are some of the most injury prone due to the repetitive, and harsh, overhead throwing motion. Engaging in an effective strength and conditioning program can help offset this overuse injury and keep you healthy.
2. Improve Core Stability
The core is one of the most overlooked and underrated areas that absolutely needs to be addressed - not only in baseball and softball, but all sports. The core is used for every movement, and most people truly don’t understand the function of the core or how to properly train it. The main function of the core is to transfer power generated from the legs and arms. Having a weak and unstable core will cause an athlete to lose a lot of power, reduce speed, and slow down change of direction. If your core isn't properly trained, it doesn’t matter how much power you can generate with your legs as you will lose a lot of that power with a weak core. Movements like pitching, hitting, and fielding all require a strong and stable core if optimal performance is desired.
3. Improve Maximal Strength
When you increase your maximal strength, you increase your body’s ability to apply force. Force is the name of the game when it comes to athletics. When you increase your lower body’s ability to apply force to the ground you jump higher, you run faster (because your stride is longer), you throw harder and faster, you swing more powerfully. You need a solid strength foundation in order to build other athletic qualities such as speed, agility, acceleration, etc.
4. Improve Rotational Power
Rotational power is vitally important in a sport like baseball. To take yourself from warning track power to home run power, you need to increase and improve your rotational power. Rotational power requires direct training as it is a complex synchronization of the body that involves a whole host of muscle groups. Again, without directly focusing on and working those muscle groups in a synchronized pattern you will not be able to improve it.
5. Improve Speed and Agility
Getting out of the box and down the first base line faster, improving your range in the infield/outfield, stealing more bases all require great acceleration and top end speed. Improve your speed by 1) Improving your body’s ability to apply A LOT OF force 2) Improving the body’s ability to recruit or express that force quickly and 3) improving your bio-mechanics and movement efficiency. You improve speed and get fast by getting stronger, improving your ability to recruit and express that strength quickly, and then learn how to move properly and EFFICIENTLY.
6. Improve Endurance
While it is important to start off strong, it is also just as (if not more) important to be able to finish strong. A proper Sports Performance Program will ensure that you develop muscular and cardio endurance to finish the game strong and seal the deal.
7. Improve Recovery
Recovery is often times a neglected area or component, but one that needs to be addressed in every Sports Performance Program. The truth is, recovery is needed to help the athlete “recharge” the batteries and allow them to continue training and competing at a high level. Both nutrition and recovery techniques should be used to help athletes recover and be able to go at a high level all year round.