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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Should Baseball And Softball Players Participate In Weight Training Programs?

Advanced Skills Tee

It's baseball season, and you are ready for it. You bought a new bat, dusted off the cleats, and oiled the glove. You drilled, grounder after grounder, only to follow it by fly ball, after fly ball. When the fielding drills were over, you moved on to the batting cages. You have hit so many balls that you could probably tag a slider in your sleep. So, what's next but to hit the field, right? Wrong!

What about your weight training? Yes that's right, lifting weights. Almost all baseball clubs, from high school to the majors, use weight training for injury prevention, rehabilitation of injuries and for strengthening individual weaknesses. One of the most important things a weight training program needs to do is to isolate certain muscles specific to the throwing motion and strengthen them to prevent arm injuries.

A combination of various forms of exercises tends to work best: isometrics, isotonic and is kinetic, plyometrics, (not just for tennis anymore), active resistive and especially flexibility/stretching exercises are all important in developing a well-balance program. Players at different positions need to emphasize different elements of the program, and different body parts.

For pitchers, you need to build cardiovascular endurance, and lower body strength and endurance. You also need to build general flexibility, and strengthen the shoulders and the elbows. For catchers, you need to emphasize leg strength, flexibility and agility. Building hand a wrist strength is also important along with building abdominal strength.
For Infielders and outfielders, a combination of building leg flexibility, hand and wrist strength, upper body strength and endurance is very important.

For all positions its important to add exercises that emphasize the rotator cuff complex, consisting of internal and external shoulder rotation, and front, rear and side elevation isolating the supraspinatus. Especially effective are lightweight shoulder excursuses stimulating the small muscles (rotator cuff) essential to the throwing motion.

When putting together a workout program for baseball, it is most effective if three programs are built. The first program should be the off-season program. The program should be designed to strengthen and balance all major muscle groups of the body. You should consult your coach or trainer about varying the exercises in the program to strengthen your particular weakness and/or correct muscle imbalance.

The second program should be the pre-season program. This program should be designed to build more strength. This program should be started 4-6 weeks before the season, this is also the time to start incorporating baseball-specific exercises in the gym or out on the field. This helps get your body ready to perform baseball skills again.

The third program should be the in-season program. This program should be designed to maintain strength levels acquired during the off and pre season programs. Abdominal, rotational and light weight work are essential parts of any in-season program. Pitchers should concentrate on light weight shoulder work such as deltoid raises.
As you can see, as much as we want to hit that chalk lined field, it's just as important to incorporate a weight training program, to insure a fun filled, and injury free season.

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Hello Baseball Friend,
I welcome any comments or suggestions. If you have a question or a topic that you would like to read about, please leave a comment and I will try to address that topic as soon as I can. Good luck in the coming season!
Have a great day, Nick