Forming a strong baseball foundation is key on the journey to become an elite player.
Simply put, if you skip to the more advanced exercises and rep schemes while missing out on the foundational aspects of training that translate to the field, that athlete, at some point, can fall to injuries from poor base foundation skills.
This is something that is critical for college coaches to understand when writing strength programs for a team.
Not only are there specific demands of the sport that must be taken into account, but also the training age of the athletes.
If you have an athlete who hasn’t had much weight room experience, it might not be smart to load up a barbell front squat or a power clean. Instead, start with an exercise further regressed from these lifts based on where the athletes current skill level is at.
When you break down strength training, you teach athletes skills.
For example, there is a high skill level required in performing a front squat and actually getting out of it what you are supposed to, and also maintaining health.
If the risk is high doing an exercise, what is the point?
Figuring out where to start as a coach can be challenging with a team, but assessing each athlete is optimal to learn how each athlete’s body moves and where their deficiencies are, also where they are with training age.
It can lead to greater consequences to assume the entire team is at the same spot. Taking extra time to personalize for each athlete might take more work, but will pay off in the long run when the athlete is avoiding potential injuries and moving better for his position.
I love the analogy of building a skyscraper.
If you want to build a tall building, you would not flatten out some ground and start building. You would dig deep and build a strong foundation so that you can build a tall building that can withstand strong wind and storms. This is the thought process that we as strength coaches must take as we build strategic programs for athletes, including beginner athletes.
An athlete can be a “beginner” at different ages. As a strength community, we refer to this as an athletes’ “training age”.
For example, a 18-year-old college athlete could have a training age of 1 and a 16-year-old can have a 5-year training age. It’s all based on experience.
Why does building a baseball foundation matter?
To start, the first step is building a foundation of skill and movement.
This means creating proper movement patterns and using various aspects of proprioception.
Having an understanding of where your body is in space and how to move one body part without moving other parts is a skill that takes some time to acquire. However, learning this is paramount to orienting your body during high-skill movements, both in the gym and on the field.
For example, being able to know where your shoulder and scapula are during the pitching motion is directly related with your ability to get into the optimal positions to throw the ball and max velocity.
Some simple ways to start building the foundation of skill for a squat pattern could be a Hand Supported Split Squat Iso hold-> Weighted Split Squat Iso hold-> Goblet Split Squat-> Either rear foot elevated split squat or front foot elevated split squat-> DB Goblet Squat-> Then a barbell Front squat.
There are other micro adjustments within that progression to regress or progress the athlete before the next step, but that would be an example of how to teach the skill of a front squat to an athlete and have them be prepared to get under a bar before they get there.
Why should parents care about baseball foundation?
In a perfect world, every strength coach knows exactly what to do, is an expert, and will turn your child into a premier athlete.
Sadly that’s not the case.
As a parent, it is important to know if the coach or college is training your child to develop to be a better baseball player, based off of his body and position, or if the coach is just there to get the team “in shape”, “make them sweat”, “make them sore”, or “make them men.”
A strength coach’s job is to help athletes develop in their sport so it transfers to the field.
Development should be the overall goal of training for athletes.
Looking for more information on how to set your strength foundation up for success? Read DJ Edwards latest article here.