As my college baseball guys return to start the fall season, it seems appropriate to write a baseball strength and conditioning article. I spent most of this morning explaining our program and the philosophy behind it to the athletes. Of everything that we discussed today, the bench press, Olympic Weightlifting, and distance running were the hottest topics.
Before I dive into the reasoning for each of these exercises I want to make one thing clear, we are all here to help our athletes. If something is working for you or your athletes, I'll be the last guy to tell you to stop doing it.
With that said, everything I say will be backed with research and data that has shifted my philosophy away from the bench, Olympic lifts, and distance running.
I. Barbell Bench Press
I have an entire article dedicated to why I dislike the barbell bench press for throwers. I'll put the link for that here: http://www.travishashfitness.com/blog/should-baseball-players-bench-press
Some alternatives to the barbell bench press that we use in our program are weighted push-up variations, floor press, and occasionally dumbbell bench press (depending on the period of the program).
II. Olympic Weightlifting
In recent Instagram post I addressed some of the reasons that I do not like Olympic Weightlifting for baseball athletes. The post reads as follows:
"Olympic lifts such as the hang clean, power clean, and snatch are excellent exercises for developing explosive power. With that said, I do not think that baseball players should perform them for a few main reasons:
1. Time- Olympic lifts take a lot of time and close coaching attention to master. In my opinion, the time that it would take for an athlete (let alone an entire team) to master the lift could be better spent elsewhere (see #2).
2. Power is Plane Specific- The research shows that sports-specific power is best developed when you train in that same plane that you play your sport in. Rotational (transverse plane) plyometric movements and frontal plane plyometric movements would be more beneficial to baseball players than Olympic lifts.
>>The research I'm referring to: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22706576
3. Safety- I also question the safety of some of the movements for throwers as they already place a significant amount of stress on the shoulders."
Eric Cressey, who trains over one hundred professional baseball players, has a great article on this topic: https://ericcressey.com/why-baseball-players-shouldnt-olympic-lift
III. Distance Running
Even as a player, before I actually knew any better, I knew that distance running was not helping me become a better baseball player. Now, as a strength coach, it drives me insane when I see baseball athletes running long distances.
First, baseball is a game of short, quick, and explosive bursts of energy. Because of this, most of the game is played in the ATP-PC energy system. So majority of your time, as a baseball player, should be spent training in this system considering it is the system you use to actually play your sport.
More on Energy Systems Here: http://www.travishashfitness.com/blog/sport-specific-training
Second, running distances is not the best method of reducing post-activity soreness. Voluntary muscle contractions have been shown to be better for improving blood flow and restoring range of motion in tight areas. Techniques such as Self Myofascial Release and mobility drills are also superior to distance running.
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