How to Train For Baseball Movements: Methods for Improving Human Performance

Training a professional baseball player requires a significant time and investment in the individual players, as Kevin Kerekes is fully aware from his years in the game. The sports training industry is a six billion dollar industry with an annual growth of 3.2 percent. Baseball falls under the umbrella of sports training and research helps players become more effective and efficient in the field. Coaches that aspire to train other players and players that just want to improve their game can benefit from the latest research in sports training methodologies.

Building the Aerobic Base

A strong anaerobic and aerobic base is traditionally one of the most important characteristics of an effective baseball player. Anaerobic activity comes into play when running between bases, pitching, throwing and swinging the bat. Aerobic activity comes into play when running long distances and increasing endurance. Aerobic activity also provides a way to continue training and building power and strength while allowing for recovery time between anaerobic exercises.

Interval Training Exercises

Since long bouts of aerobic activity can decrease muscle fiber size and strength, players need to be careful about the types of aerobic activity they include in a workout. Rather than running long distances, players should aim to complete several high-intensity interval training sessions. For example, a complete set could include sprinting for 400 meters, walking for 400 meters, jogging for 400 meters and then running for 400 meters. This cycle can be repeated with minimal rests between each set. This will both increase endurance and power, two elements crucial to a players ability.

Increasing Power and Strength

Baseball players need both power and strength. Players can increase power by decreasing the amount of time it takes to push, throw or pull an object. However, players should attempt to exercise the maximum weight they can handle simply because the amount of power decreases as the weight increases. Because a baseball player needs strong power, but doesn’t need to hit a bowling ball out of the stadium, it’s a good idea to complete exercises with 30 to 50 percent of the one rep maximum of the player. Essentially, speed is more important than force, since a baseball weighs less than half a pound and a bat weight less than three pounds.

Use resistance bands when completing exercises to help control the movement when using weights and to keep the muscle working during the entire range of motion. Throwing and running speed can both be increased by rapidly stretching the muscle during exercise. Attach resistance bands to the barbell when completing exercises to shorten the time it takes for the bar to decelerate and keep the muscle tense throughout the entire range of motion. This will give the player a more powerful concentric contraction, which improves the overall muscular contraction level.

How to Exercise

Research indicates that most players have some degree of shoulder instability that can be corrected with proper training. Adding weight to chest and overhead lifts can increase the risk of injury and increase issues with shoulder instability. Since baseball players engage in a high degree of throwing activities, any excess exercise could create additional imbalances in the body. Players can avoid injury by exercising these large muscles after they complete a throwing practice. Since the act of throwing stresses the muscles far more than strength training, this can help a player avoid injury and prevents fatigue that can negate the effects of a good throwing session.

Professional Trainers

Before beginning any exercise routine, it’s important to consult with a trained professional to ensure that the exercises performed don’t end up harming the player. A professional can work with the player to maintain diet, rest and other factors that also play a role in the development of a solid baseball training regimen. Players can also enlist the help of a professional to incorporate soft tissue work to ensure that the player is well rested between games.

Arm Strength and Shoulder Exercises

There are several basic exercises that should be a part of any baseball players regimen. These exercises can help a player improve both strength and power to ensure the best possible performance during a game. Each of the exercises below should be completed using a five pound dumbbell. Avoid using any more weight than that to prevent exercising the wrong muscles. These exercises should be completed three times per week with at least a day rest between each exercise session. Adding a resistance band to any of these exercises is a great way to increase control and make the exercise more effective.

45 Degree Raises: Use light dumbbells, no heavier than five pounds. If you use over five pounds, you start to activate the deltoids and exercise the wrong muscle group. This exercise works the shoulder and rotator cuff to increase strength and prevent injury. Keeping the elbows straight, raise your arms to a 45 degree angle to your body. Control the lowering of the dumbbells by counting down from three to ensure that the arms don’t lower too quickly. Complete three sets of 10 and leave at least one day of rest between exercises.

Shoulder Abduction: Another exercise that strengthens the rotator cuff, the shoulder abduction should be performed with a smooth and controlled motion. With the elbows straight, raise the arms so that the match the height of the shoulders and lower the dumbbell again taking between three to five seconds. Don’t lose your posture and avoid shrugging and shirking to get the weight up to the right height. As with the 45 degree raises, use a five pound dumbbell. These exercises can be alternated to work different parts of the same muscle.

Internal 45 Degree Raises: With a dumbbell in each hand stand with your arms at your side with your palms facing inward toward your body. Keeping your elbows straight, bring your arms out in a straight line away from your body so that the arm ends up in a straight line with your shoulder. Slowly lower your arms back to the starting position. Alternate your arms so that you end up concentrating on one shoulder at a time. Complete three sets of 10 reps each.

External Rotation: Lying on your side, place the arm beneath you on a towel or some other soft surface to prevent an unusual arm position. Hold the dumbbell out in front of you at a 90-degree angle and rotate from the hand to your shoulders and then back down again with a three to five second count. Complete three sets of 10 reps each and then exercise the other side.

Farmer’s Walk: Baseball players needs strong forearms to put the most amount of force behind each hit. Grab two heavy pairs of dumbbells and keep the shoulder blades in a backwards position. Walk around the gym until you begin to notice the grip slipping and the put the dumbbells gently on the floor. Complete this exercise three times for the maximum length of time you can handle. Only complete the exercise twice per week and at the end of your workout. Avoid performing this activity a week before games or before another strenuous workout. It should be the last thing you do when your training day is over.

With proper support and an effective training program you can learn to avoid injuries and increase your playing ability. Strength and power are the name of the game, and you can increase both by using these carefully constructed exercises.

Kevin Kerekes is a New Jersey resident, former Rutgers University and Pittsburgh Pirates baseball player, proud father and husband. His blog, KevinKerekes.com, shares his views of NJ and helps in sentencing people to better lives. Learn more about Mr. Kerekes on baseball-reference.com.

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