Speed and different kinds of strength

Power is force applied in a certain time. The more force you apply over a shorter time span the more power you can generate.

of course pure power is not everything because the swing is a complex movement. You want to use as many muscle groups as possible (using the whole body) but you want to use the muscles in the correct sequence from the ground up. If the swing is out of sync that can hurt both batspeed and accuracy so learning good mechanics is important. Intermuscular coordination has to be learned but this is not the topic of this article. In this article I want to talk about how muscles generate strength.

 

There are different kinds of strength:

 

  1. Reactive strength: A muscle that is stretched dynamically will be able to fire at higher intensities. The kinetic chain sequentially stretches and fires muscles like a rubber band. Muscles can be trained to develope higher peak forces after a stretch. For that you stretch the muscle dynamically and immediately reverse. That kind of training is called plyometrics and can be highly effective in increasing power without adding mass to the body. However it has to be said that this training also creates great forces that can cause injury if not done right or without creating general physical preparedness first.

2. Intramuscular coordination: The body can’t recruit all muscle fibers at once. There is a reserve that only can be recruited under extreme stress but by training you can increase the number of motor units that can fire at the same time. Lifting big weights at low reps will train that kind of strength without gaining much muscle mass. That kind of training is done at 90 plus percent of the max lift weight and usually 1-3 reps.

 

  1. 3.  Muscle mass: muscle mass is not everything but given the same intramuscular coordination more muscle mass will generate more power.  So gaining more mass will help but only if you don’t sacrifice on flexibility and coordination. Still players need to increase muscle mass but not neglect other areas of training. Training for muscle mass  (hypertrophy) is usually done at 80 plus percent of the max doing 5-12 reps per set.

 

4. Speed strength: To develope speed a muscle must contract as fast as possible. Speed consists of many traits like coordination, technique and also the muscle fiber type but it also is related to strength. That is because the inertia of the object you are trying to move is getting the larger the faster you accelerate. Speed strength is simply trained by moving non maximal weights fast. In weightlifting usually weights of 50-70% of the max is used for training by moving the weight 3-5 times as fast as you can.

Basic fitness training

Basic fitness training:

It is important that you build a foundation before you do harder and more specialized training, especially for younger kids. Too hard training early on can lead to injuries. I would recommend starting to work with body weight excercises to bring your body in shape.

Always start with a good warmup. Run a couple poles and do some gymnastics (arm circles, jumping jacks….) for the legs and arms. There are a lot of different theories about stretching, but I would do some light dynamic stretches along with the gymnastics.

Leg work:

Running coordination drills:

This is about batspeed but running is important in baseball. Do some high knees, buttkicks, shuffles skips, lunges and other stuff. You can find a lot oft hat stuff on youtube, so I won’t really go too deep into that. You don’t need to do a lot of volume, more important ist hat you do it regularly. Two lanes of 90 feet of each drill is plenty enough.

 

Sprints: sprints build leg power and of course make you faster. Do a couple sprints about 90-120 feet but only after a good warmup and some coordination work. 5-6 sprints should be enough, don’t get tired.

 

Jumps:

    1. Vertical jumps: crouch low and immediately jump up. This triggerst he stretch reflex and builds explosivity. Do 2-3 sets of 5-8 reps.
    2. Standing long jump series: squat low and swing your arms back, then extend forward and swing the arms forward at the same time. As you land you crouch and swing the arms back and then immedately repeat as you land

Core work:

The core is extremely important in baseball. It transfers power from the legs to the bat.

      1. Plank variations. Do normal forward planks, side planks and even some twisted planks like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSoWKDfdZwU search plank variations on youtube and don’t do the same every day.
      2. Crunches: those are disputed too but I think if you don’t overdo them they are still a solid excercise albeit not really baseball specific
      3. Straight leg pelvic twist: lay on the back, lift your extended legs and move them left of you tot he ground and then right and so on. Great excercise for the obliques. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcTgP9ZYCmMUpper body excercises:
      1. Push ups. By far the most famous body weight excercise and rightfully so. very good pushing excercise. You can target the triceps more by keeping the hands narrower. Make sure to go all the way down and not too fast. You can increase difficulty by raising feet.
      2. Pull-ups. Great excercise but not easy to do. for starters you can do lying pull ups on a low bar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0g1_zc4vLi4 until you can do real pull-ups
      3. Band work: google throwers ten for pointers. Especially important ist he external rotation oft he shoulders for health because baseball targets more the internal rotators.

After your workout do some static stretching to not lose flexibility. Do toe touches, quad stretches, calf stretches and adductor stretches. Also do stretches fort he triceps, pecs, lats and forearms. Losing flexibility can hurt your technique and limit your range of motion causing you to not use the whole kinetic chain. Make sure to stretch the obliques too (like this for example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdIUEUTXP6Y) so that you can increase the hip shoulder separation in the swing.