Strength Training through Summer Ball Season
By Phil Tognetti (@FullWindup)
Summer baseball is upon us, and whether you realize it or not, this summer will be the summer to level up your game. Or, you can plan on returning to school in the fall the same ballplayer you were when the season ended this past spring.
But, allow me to let you in on a little secret. If you want to become a better ballplayer this summer, you must focus on your development. Commit to the small details that over time will add up to big positive changes.
One of these small details that can make a world of difference will be your strength and conditioning program. While most athletes will spend their time, money, and effort on an endless number of games, showcases, and camps, the baseball players who take some time to work on their strength, power, and mobility will be the ones who earn a competitive advantage come next fall.
Anyone who has been in the game long enough knows that baseball players need to be strong, fast, powerful, flexible, and durable. That being said, baseball players cannot expect to get in “baseball shape” and stay in shape by just playing the game. There needs to be consistent effort day in and day out in something more than just playing.
Let’s first take a look at what an entire year looks like at the high school and college levels.
Looking at the chart above, we can see that there are three distinct training periods throughout the year. Based on what time of year it is, baseball players and coaches can design strength training programs accordingly.
Most summer ball seasons run from June through July. While the chart shows this as the end of the in-season, summer ball presents a unique opportunity. The number of games tend to increase for ballplayers, while the number of practices decrease.
With no school and most games on nights and weekends, there is a huge window of opportunity to increase your strength and speed by staying consistent in the weight room.
But let me be clear – don’t confuse going to the gym or being a part of a summer “weights class” with having a training program.
If you haven’t noticed, baseball is a unique sport with very specific physical demands placed upon each athlete who takes the field. Take for example the forces placed on your shoulder during a throw. Your shoulder can reach velocities of 6,100-9,000 degrees/sec when throwing a baseball. If you want to be successful and keep yourself healthy, you need to take a proactive approach in the maintenance of your shoulder (among other things).
Try to understand that a solid strength program will not just help you hit the ball harder and throw the ball faster. A baseball training program will help you stay healthy in the process. Resistance training is the cornerstone of physical therapy, which also incorporates mobility work, stabilization exercises, flexibility, and other techniques to return injured athletes back to the field of competition. It’s not just about lifting weights. If injured athletes utilize similar approaches to return from injury, what does that say about the indirect benefits of a strength & conditioning program to keep non-injured athletes healthy?
You should not train like a football player or a basketball player. There are some basics that your baseball strength and conditioning program should include:
• Pre-hab work focusing on shoulder, hip, and back mobility and strengthening
• Soft Tissue Work
• Flexibility WorkAgain, these are basic foundations that should be in your baseball training program.Now, knowing what should be in your strength program and executing on it are two very different things. Just showing up is not the key. No one rep, one set, or one day will make you substantially better. It is the accumulation of all the small tasks done well consistently that add up to great results. You need to put in quality effort if you expect to get quality results. Results are not instant, so it’s easy to forget why you are putting in all this work.
Here are a few things to focus on to make sure each of your training sessions are quality training sessions:
• Move with purpose – Focus on executing movements perfectly. Going through the motions will not get it done, and you will probably do more harm than good by teaching your body poor movement patterns.
• Get rid of distractions – Detach yourself from your phone and focus your attention on the task at hand. I promise you whoever is texting, calling, or sending you a tweet will still be there when you finish your training session.
• Enjoy the process – Your going to have great days and not-so-great days in the gym. Enjoy every one of them and understand that the two attributes you can bring with you every single day are your passion and your enthusiasm.
Listen, you don’t have to train every day of the week during the summer. Shoot for 2-4 days per week based on what works best for your schedule. Plan on getting your training sessions done in the morning so you can spend the mid-day recovering, and be ready to go for those night games.
Summer ball really gives players a chance to develop – both on the field and in the weight room. Before beginning any program, you should make sure you define your goals and have a clear focus as to what you want to accomplish. Don’t miss out on this valuable time frame to become a better athlete!
If you are looking for some help in setting up your summer strength and conditioning program, check out https://gumroad.com/l/btm_aff_pitchmechanics. With this baseball-specific strength and conditioning program, you will be able to work on the basics, iron out some inefficiencies in your movement patterns, and create a foundation upon which to build even more strength, mobility, and stability. https://gumroad.com/l/btm_aff_pitchmechanics