“Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical,” baseball legend Yogi Berra once said. While Berra’s math didn’t quite add up, the 18-time All-Star, 10-time World Champion, and 3-time MVP knew how important it was to have your mind and body working together in order to have success as a baseball player.
When you’re feeling confident and strong, it will show in your play. That’s why your off-season training and drills program is so important. By preparing for the season the right way, you’ll be focused and ready come tryouts, and give yourself the best shot to make the team. So, let’s get your game to the next level with this off-season weight training and drills program.
BASEBALL WEIGHT TRAINING PROGRAM
In the early preseason, your program should include a mix of endurance, strength, and hypertrophy (increasing muscle size) objectives. So, the weights you use shouldn’t be too heavy, and you should aim for somewhere in the range of two to four sets of 12 to 15 repetitions per exercise. The higher number of repetitions will stimulate an increase in muscle endurance and muscle volume.
Before starting any new weight training and drills programs, make sure to consult your coach and physician so you can come up with a plan that’s best suited for you. It’s also generally recommended that you limit your strength training and weight lifting sessions to two to three times per week with at least one day of rest between sessions.
When you’re ready to start your program, pick and choose the exercises that will benefit you most based on your personal fitness and baseball goals. For example, if you’re a pitcher, you’ll want to train differently than a catcher. And if you’re a power hitter, you’ll probably have different off-season goals than a contact hitter. Regardless of your program, it’s important to do dynamic stretches before each weight training and drills session in order to loosen your muscles and get your heart rate going.
Front Squat: Even when you’re targeting your lower body, your baseball training regimen should still be designed to strengthen and protect your throwing arm and shoulder. While the front squat might be uncomfortable, and difficult to get right the first few times that you do this exercise, it carries less of a risk of irritating your shoulder, or making any underlying asymptomatic shoulder issues worse compared to the back squat. Front squats will also make your legs and hips stronger, especially your quads and glutes. To do a front squat, begin with the barbell across the front side of your shoulders. Place your fingertips under the barbell (just outside of your shoulders) and drive your elbows up. With your chest up and core tight, bend at your hips and knees to lower into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Then straighten your hips and knees to drive up to the starting position.
Backward Lunge With A Twist: Performing a backward lunge with a twist will give you more rotational ability every time you throw the ball, while also decreasing the risk of injury to your lower back while stressing your hip flexors. Step back with your left leg into a lunge. Then lean back slightly and reach your left arm to the ceiling as you twist your torso over your front (right) leg. Step into the next lunge and repeat for 10 reps, and then do 10 reps on the other side.
Single Leg Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift: The single leg dumbbell Romanian deadlift is a unilateral deadlift variation that can help to increase development of the hamstrings and glutes, while establishing greater knee, hip, and core stability. Increasing leg balance and core stability is important for pitchers since they need to bring power from their lower body to their upper body when delivering a pitch to home plate. To do this exercise, stand straight, holding a dumbbell in your right hand, with your left hand at your side. Bend down and extend your right leg straight back, while keeping your left foot (the opposite leg from the dumbbell) planted on the ground. Your right arm should hang straight down and your body should form a ‘T-shape’ when you bend. Hold the position at the bottom and then return to starting position. Repeat for the appropriate number of reps and then switch sides – holding the dumbbell in your left hand with your right hand at your side.
Incline Dumbbell Press: While the traditional barbell bench press is an excellent strength and size builder, it’s not ideal for baseball players since it won’t necessarily improve your skills and may increase the risk of shoulder injury. That’s why the incline dumbbell press is preferred for baseball players since this exercise tends to be easier on your shoulders, while targeting your chest, shoulders, and triceps. If your bench is adjustable, set the incline to between 30- to 45-degrees. Then sit on the bench and lean back, while keeping your feet flat on the floor. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, with your hands positioned at your shoulders and your elbows bent and angled down below your ribs, brace your core, keep your wrists straight, and press both dumbbells up over your chest as you exhale. At the top of the movement, the dumbbells should almost touch each other. Then reverse the movement and slowly lower the dumbbells back to the top of your chest as you inhale. Your elbows should come down at roughly a 45-degree angle to your torso as you lower the dumbbells. Then repeat the movement.
Standing Cable Baseball Swing: The standing cable baseball swing is designed to help baseball players improve their trunk rotation, ab stability, and core strength with resistance training. This exercise levels up your power behind the bat, while protecting your back and shoulders. To properly do a standing cable baseball swing, set the cable machine high and hold the handle with both of your hands, while standing sideways to the cable. Then move your hands from the high position across your body to the opposite hip, keeping your arms straight while rotating your body. Make sure to rotate from your hips, and concentrate on not being stiff in your hips as you do this exercise.
Medicine Ball Rotational Throw: Doing medicine ball rotational throws will improve your ability to store and release energy from your hips, which is required when you’re throwing a ball or swinging a bat. Stand facing a solid wall about three feet away, while holding the medicine ball at waist level. Then rotate your trunk away from the wall. Start the throw by powerfully rotating your hips toward the wall, followed by your trunk, arms, and the medicine ball. With your arms slightly bent, catch the ball with one hand under the ball and the other behind it. Repeat for 10 reps, and then switch sides.
In, Out, Up The Middle Hitting Drill: For players who want to work on hitting the ball to different parts of the field and improve their pitch location recognition, this In, Out, Up The Middle hitting drill will do just that. This drill requires at least two players – a pitcher and a hitter, as well as two cones or objects that you can set up on the field – one on the edge of the outfield grass behind the shortstop area, and the other on the edge of the grass behind where the second baseman would be positioned in a game. Standing behind an L-screen, the pitcher will stand close enough to the plate to throw the ball either inside, outside, or in the middle of the plate. As the pitch comes in, the hitter has to call out the location of the ball – either inside, outside, or middle, and then hit the ball to the appropriate part of the field. So, for an inside pitch, a right-handed hitter would say, ‘inside’ and then pull the ball to the left side of the field. If the pitch comes down the center of the plate, the righty hitter would say, ‘middle’ and then hit the ball back up the middle. Or if the pitch is outside they’ll say, ‘outside’ and then hit the ball to the right side of the field.
Wall Ball Fielding Drill: If you want to practice, but don’t have any teammates or friends around to work on your skills with, you can do this wall ball fielding drill that simulates fielding a short hop or a difficult to handle ground ball. Find a wall somewhere nearby and stand about five yards away from it. Then throw the ball against the wall and get into a low crouched position so you can field the ball. If the ball bounces to the right as it comes off the wall, you’ll use your backhand to catch it (if you’re a right-handed player), and if the ball goes to the left, you’ll catch the ball on your forehand. This drill will help you develop quick hands, while also getting you comfortable fielding balls hit to either side of you.
The Importance Of NutritionIn addition to your weight training and drills program, another key area that is often overlooked is nutrition. Protein supplements like Six Star 100% Whey Protein Plus can help you build muscle, increase strength, and support your recovery, while sports nutrition supplements such as Six Star’s Pre-Workout Explosion can provide extra energy and focus prior to your workout.