Jumping Rope in Baseball – Back to the Future

While strength and conditioning coaches are continually looking for the next cutting edge piece of equipment to give their athletes an advantage over their opponents, most already have a small, inexpensive, old fashioned, simple and effective, training device tucked away in the corner of the weight room or in the bottom of their traveling equipment box – the jump rope. Jump ropes have been around for decades and while they were originally used for warm-up and conditioning, current practice has shown them to be effective for 1) improving speed, agility, quickness, coordination; 2) helping reduce the risk of injury by increasing strength and ankle stability while working in a safe, controlled environment; and 3) (more…)

Off-Season Strength and Conditioning: Overview of the Professional Baseball Player

As the change of seasons is marked by changes in the weather, October marks professional baseball’s changing of seasons. For teams not in the play-offs or World Series, October signals the end of a 6-month competitive season and the start of a 4-5 month off-season depending on the level that you are competing at. The professional baseball season is a marathon. Major League teams play 162 games in approximately 180 games. Minor league teams play 142 games in approximately 160 days. There are only 20 off-days during a typical MLB season and half of these occur when the team is on the road and away from home. For MLB teams not involved in the play-offs, the off-season starts around the second week of October and 1 to 3 weeks later for play-off teams. It starts the first of September for minor leaguers whose teams fail to make the play-offs and those who don’t go to instructional league.  Minor league players involved in the (more…)

Off-Season Conditioning for Position Players Aerobic or Anaerobic Workouts?

Baseball is an anaerobic sport that relies primarily on the ATP-PC system to provide energy for the short bursts of high-intensity, explosive movements that occur in game situations. Most plays last for 5 seconds or less. The average Major League pitcher, for example, takes 1.3 to 1.5 seconds to get the ball to the plate from a full windup and 1.0 to 1.3 seconds from the stretch. Catchers take approximately 2 seconds to get it to second base, successful stolen base attempts take 3.3 seconds or less and most runners can go first to third and second to home in 7 seconds or less. Most batters go from home to first in 4.35 to 4.45 seconds when running all-out. Ground balls take 2 seconds or less to reach an infielder and are thrown across the diamond in less than 2.5 seconds. Most fly balls are in the air for 3 to 5 seconds. Good outfielders take 1.1 seconds or less to release the ball once it touches the glove, others take about 1.5 seconds. Once released, balls (more…)

DB Lunge and Reach

The DB lunge and reach is the next progression above the DB split-squat and reach. It is a dynamic, functional, lower body exercise that requires the hamstrings to work in hip extension and deceleration. Performing a lunge movement, instead of a split-squat movement increases the coordination, mobility and stability demands of the exercise.
How to do it: Stand with both feet pointed straight ahead and shoulder-width apart. Hold a DB in both hands with arms extended downward in front of the body. Lunge forward, landing on the heel of the front foot, reach the DB forward and (more…)

Suspension Training Equipment for Baseball

In the last decade, several new pieces of training equipment have been developed that have been proven to be suitable for training baseball players. Some have elaborate design features and come with complex manuals, computer chips and expensive price tags. Others, despite being simpler and cheaper, are extremely effective. One of the simplest, least expensive and extremely effective pieces is the suspension trainer aka TRX (Total Body Resistance Exercise). Developed by a former Navy Seal, Randy Hetrick, (more…)

Babe Ruth

We have all heard it, especially those who were around in the late 1970s and early 1980s when strength and conditioning coaches were as popular in MLB as free agency – “Babe Ruth never lifted weights,” and our only come back was “imagine how much better he could have been if he had worked out.” Now, after decades of being told that Babe Ruth, aka the Sultan of Swat, the Caliph of Clout, the Wizard of Whack and the Bambino, actually did workout. In The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth published by Broadway Books in 2006, the author, Leigh Montville, claims that exercise and discipline saved the Babe’s career. Exercise and discipline – two words that we have been led to (more…)

Perturbation Exercises: Reactive Training for the Core

Core training has become the norm in most professional baseball training programs during the past decade, and there is an abundance of core training equipment and core training programs each claiming to be the “best” way to train the core, enhance performance and reduce the risk of injury. Equipment and programs exist to stabilize the core by preventing flexion, lateral flexion, extension and/or rotation. There also exit procedures to improve core mobility by increasing flexion, lateral flexion, extension and/or rotation. While most of these programs have some degree of effectiveness, all utilize some form of preplanned movement, i.e., you know what action you are going to produce (more…)

Front Plank with Hip Extension

It is always preferable to include exercises that activate the gluteus maximus and medius in training programs. Research has shown that poor hip activation/control leads to frontal plane knee collapse and may lead to excessive strain on the knee.

In a previous posting, I discussed the side plank with hip abduction as an excellent choice for the gluteus medius based on EMG activation. This article will discuss the front (more…)

DB Split-Squat and Reach

The DB split-squat and reach is an excellent in-place, hip dominant, posterior chain, functional exercise for the ankle, knee, hip and hamstrings. Placing the DBs in front of the lead foot shifts the body weight forward and involves the hamstrings heavily in hip extension and deceleration. Placing the feet relatively close together increases the demand for total body stability.

How to do it: The exercise starts from a split-squat position with feet slightly wider than parallel and a DB placed horizontally on the floor approximately 6 inches in front of the lead foot. From the starting position with one leg forward and one leg back, the exercise has four sequential movements on each leg: