What it IS and what it is NOT
At DST, we get approached a lot about whether or not our programming is sport-specific. More often than not, it relates to baseball. Sport specificity is important to a certain extent.
It seems that everyone has the general understanding that baseball players, as well as all overhead athletes, require different and more concentrated forms of training, especially with the core and shoulder.
I write that last sentence with a grimace on my face because most of the athletes that walk through the door need a general training program, not a specific one. They are usually detrained and need a certain level of general strength work to make any “specific” work useful.
Strength Training for the baseball player
Many baseball players come into a training program with a stigma. Somewhere along the line, they’ve been told that they shouldn’t lift heavy weights. They have been told, “if they get too big, it could affect their mobility and speed.” While this is true to an extent, the blunt fact is that almost all of the baseball players that walk through our doors are in no danger of getting too big. I could even argue many athletes are putting themselves at risk of injury with their lack of essential muscle development.
Strength relating to speed for the baseball player
In addition, we must also recognize how strength factors into speed. I’m not suggesting that the bigger someone gets, the faster they get. But, what I am saying is that speed, in acceleration (starting), is largely dependent on the amount of force one is able to apply to the ground behind them. This is where the glutes and the hamstrings are so essential. How many times have you heard something like this? “Man, he’s got great stride length.” Many people would see someone with great stride length and think that it’s because he is reaching out with the front leg.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The real action is on the backside in hip extension. Covering good ground in acceleration is usually the result of applying a lot of force to the ground through backside hip extension while not casting out with the front leg.
Simple rule of thumb: your front shin angle should be parallel to your backside shin angle. This is why strength training, especially the glutes and hamstrings, will help a ball player’s speed on the bases. We already posted a blog demonstrating acceleration with DST Athlete, Ben Tate.
I hope I have clearly explained my views and opinions on strength development for the baseball athlete with enough evidence to back up my claims.
In part two of this series, I will get into more detail specifically about training the core, and I will hit some key points on arm care. If you have any questions, or want to get involved with our training, feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment on the blog. Stay tuned for Baseball Specificity (Part Two).