How to advance team training for baseball and softball

Team training for baseball for Lamar Community College.

Every morning and across the country, athletes train in a team setting. 

From professional baseball teams to youth-level softball teams, players complete similar workouts designed for their specific sport. 

This sounds great on paper; baseball players train to play baseball, softball players train to play softball. However, the failure in this style of training is that all athletes are not born equal and might not benefit from a “one-size-fits-all” format. 

Each player has individual deficiencies, injuries, issues, and other training modifications that must be specifically programmed for. 

For example, should a catcher with tight hip external rotation and motor control issues be on the same program as an elite moving pitcher who throws every five days? Probably not. 

As a profession, strength coaches need to be better and meet athletes where they are to progress and transfer to the field. 

What is the best way to go about team training for baseball and softball?

Teams and organizations can amass anywhere from 15 to 100 players with special cases of injuries and issues presenting everywhere. 

Individually programing and coaching 100 different workouts in an efficient and specific way is practically impossible and unnecessary in most cases. Myself and other coaches at Push Performance have developed a way to create as much individualization in a team setting as possible. 

Creating individualization always starts with an athlete’s assessment

As coaches, we must understand how our players move, where their deficiencies lie, what special modifications need to be made, and who each athlete is to understand what they need in their programming. 

During this process we test the basics in range of motion, strength, and movement, then record the results. After, we can see common issues among athletes across the board. 

Once we gather all information, we can start grouping athletes into different archetypes. 

Here are some examples we use:

  • Hypomobile vs. Hypermobile
  • Proficient in movement vs. incompetent in movement
  • Rehab vs. Healthy
  • Strong vs. Weak
  • Narrow vs. Wide Rib Cage

This list could vary depending on the team. The key takeaway is each athlete should fit into a specific category the defines their body and how they move. 

Once the assessment process is complete and all athletes have been put into categories, each person should receive an individualized warm-up based on their assessment for two reasons:

  • No two athletes are the same in movement, range of motion, strength, and health. 
  • Finding individualization where you can will ultimately benefit the athlete and the team. 

If a coach can “warm-up” a player in a way that sets their body up for success in the weight room and on the field, performance and development will happen at a much higher rate (the ultimate goal of training). 

Overall flow of team training 

When starting a new team on a new program, most of the work will be on the front end. 

Creating individualized warm-ups based on breathing, mobility, stability, and activation will ultimately prep each athlete to perform at a high level in the weight room and on the field. 

Once each athlete has finished their warm-up, they should split into their respective groups and train. 

When programing team lifts, we take into account common issues. For example, if a large portion of the Hypomobile Incompetent Moving group struggles with hip internal rotation mobility, we will program a front foot elevated split squat instead of a traditional split squat to bias hip internal rotation. 

After the first program is set, normal progressions and regressions should be made based on energy output, the time of year, and feel. From here, it’s smooth sailing. 

There is no reason why two different athletes should be handed the same program by a strength coach and both be expected to develop. Remember, take the extra time, be efficient, and individualize where you can. 

If the athlete wins, everybody wins. 

Looking for nutrition tips to help your development? Read here.