It’s common in baseball (especially softball) to have development priorities backward.
With athletes and parents chasing scholarships at an earlier age than ever before, making proper development a top concern is crucial.
Knowing this, the worst word a scout or school can call an athlete is “projectable”.
Projectable describes an athlete who is small, undersized, and has good actions but lacks strength and power. Remember, an athlete’s body is his/her resume, and it is the first thing a scout sees.
The average weight of an MLB player is 207lbs! The game is changing its focus from just skilled players to players who have skill and size.
Monitoring year-round baseball development: more crucial than ever.
First, we must realize that if we can train to get better, we can train to get worse.
It is that simple.
Training to develop for baseball-specific goals and how we train matters. While skill and the weight room are congruent in development, what we see is skill work is often a higher priority than strength and development for youth and high-school level players.
Keep in mind, strength is the foundation of all movement and everything the athlete is attempting to accomplish on the field. It is the base of the pyramid for pitchers and position players.
Without proper strength, we cannot generate force. Therefore, we cannot transfer velocity out of the hand or off the barrel.
Without strength, movement quality decreases. Joint placement dictates muscle function. If the athlete is misaligned, we will not see optimal muscular activation and power output.
Power is next for athletes to succeed on field.
Power is defined as the rate at which you can apply your strength. (power=force x velocity)
Sometimes an athlete is described as “twitchy or explosive”. This is easily trainable alongside a proper strength and movement base.
Many baseball players are strong, (check out our podcast discussing this) but the key is, can he apply that strength at the time needed to express force?
Torque: distance x force.
Torque is the rotational component in the sport of baseball. Energy creation through sequenced movements is key.
Transferring force through the ground up and out of the hand or barrel can be lost without core stability. Kinetic energy is created here through trunk segments of the body.
This is a sequenced movement in throwing and hitting but cannot be expressed without power, which is a byproduct of stability. Stability is a byproduct of STRENGTH.
Range of motion: can be decreased by the way you train or lack of strength.
Sometimes we see the body tighten up to protect itself from injury. We look at this piece of the puzzle at a joint-by-joint approach.
If one joint lacks rotation, the joint above or below makes up for that lost range of motion.
An athlete lacking range of motion fights to get into positions demanded in baseball and can result in less coordinated movement patterns.
Skill is next.
To be honest, you need skill work year-round.
You will never be great if you don’t practice; however, there are times to fill different buckets.
In the off-season, most amateur players need strength. For most professional athletes, we aim to give them what they miss most either on the mound, in the box, etc.
This can be movement efficiency work, pitch design, velocity training, etc. Athletes must keep in mind their specific skill during the training process, and this is why it is crucial to have your skill and strength coaches on the same page.
Tying it all together
As you can see, numerous factors go into designing the perfect baseball development pyramid. To succeed, we must be sure all boxes are checked. This means, adding specific strength work for specific skill work and filling proper buckets to optimize performance.
Click here to read more on how specific communication will help you hit your goals.