Baseball and softball are two of the most competitive sports that young athletes participate in when it comes to the middle school and high school sports training world.
There are tons of different leagues, travel teams, coaches, organizations, scouts, tournaments, national tournaments, and more that make up the baseball and softball scene.
Now, with that said, we are NOT baseball or softball coaches. We are, however, familiar with how to develop the appropriate energy systems and athletic qualities needed to excel in the sports that require a large amount of strength, power, and balance (symmetry) in the body.
Given baseball and softball season are right around the corner, I felt it was appropriate to address this topic so we can help point you in the right direction if you are a coach, parent, or athlete reading this post.
We work with a large number of athletes in both sports and a few questions and concerns need to be addressed before we can even get to the “fun” stuff.
A.) Does the athlete have signs of an overuse injury or are they currently experiencing one? (From our experience, typically in these sports, the most problematic areas of overuse are the shoulder and elbow)
B.) What is the athlete’s schedule like? Do they play on multiple teams? Do they play year-around? Do they play at a beginner level, or advanced? Once this is figured out a schedule can be implemented to work around sport and school schedules to ensure progress is made with a plan laid out over time.
C.) The age of the athlete: how old are they? Youth athletes more and more are beginning to specialize early on by playing only one sport year-around, which means signs of overuse injury begin to creep on earlier and earlier.
D.) Current fitness level, strengths, and weaknesses: We determine these in the athlete assessment. Overall athleticism (strength and speed development) needs to be enhanced via other means outside of sport practice and this is where we uncover what needs to be addressed for long-term athletic development.
Once we dig deep and figure these things out we can then figure out a plan of attack that is specific to the needs of the athlete. Here are some general guidelines to see your softball and/or baseball game improve via means of strength & conditioning work:
- Don’t fear strength training: Strength is the foundation of speed and power. If you want to hit the ball farther, throw harder, or run faster, you must be willing to put the hard work in and get out of your comfort zone by developing full body strength. Particular attention is paid to the lower body and upper back to ensure balance and injury prevention to the shoulder.
- Speed work: Speed work should be kept in the 5-20 yard range and focus on quality over quantity of work. Baseball and softball require the athlete to be able to accelerate for a very short distance and then rest for long periods between efforts. Speed is developed through a.) force production (strength) b.) proper running mechanics and c.) Proper speed training. Of course if a double, triple, or homerun is hit the athlete will need to run a bit further. Long-distance running is not applicable to these sports and should be used very sporadically at a very low intensity, if ever.
- Power development: Throwing weighted objects (medicine balls) for height and/or distance should be done regularly, in addition to explosive jump training. Power is also enhanced via the right types of strength training.
- Frequency: 2-3 times per week is more than sufficient to see progress (2-3 hours per week) with strength & speed development. You will also find that as you get in better shape, you will be able to tolerate longer practices and more skill training. Even as the competitive seasons roll around, the athlete should be able to tolerate 1-2 sessions per week to maintain what they have built up through long periods of off-season work. Unfortunately it takes as little as 7-10 days to see decreases in speed and strength when training stops. So do everything you can to keep at it!
- Youth athletes need this stuff too! Regardless of the age, if an athlete is participating on either a.) Travel teams or b.) Plays one sport year-around, they are ready to begin physically preparing their bodies. Age appropriate exercise and programming is considered to ensure long-term progress and success.
Hope this helped! Of course, putting together a plan and putting it to action are the next steps. That’s where we come in.
If you are a parent of a softball or baseball player and want to throw the ball harder, hit the ball further, improve your 30/60 yard dash times, and get noticed by coaches, we can help!
Call us today at (707) 738-0190 to discuss your situation to see if we can help you!