Five Tool Baseball Performance Training (FTBPT) is dedicated to sharing its knowledge, ideas and opinions on baseball performance training based upon field tested experiences as player, coach and baseball strength & conditioning coach. Proper exercise technique ( to ensure effective & efficient training programs) and baseball related movement patterns are implemented to maximize on-field performance. Emphasis is placed on movement based training which integrates multiple muscle groups. This approach has a greater transfer to on-field performance and can minimize the incidence and risk of injury. 
 If a game is being played you can be sure Im watching it from home or from the stands. Many of my own workouts involve designing/creating out-of-the-box exercises & programs to enhance performance and movement unique to baseball

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thank You Dr. Coleman

Dr. Gene Coleman, Strength & Conditioning Coach for the Houston Astros, has humbled me with his words.Here's what he had to say. Thank you for the compliments Dr. Coleman.---Adam

During the off-season leading into the 2008 baseball campaign, the Houston Astros Baseball Club acquired shortstop Miguel Tejada. It was then I learned that Miguel was performing his off-season strength training with Adam Brush, Institute of Human Performance. Having had the opportunity to sit down to discuss training philosophies with Adam it is evident that he understands the demands of the game; as such the club was pleased with the overall strength and conditioning Miguel possessed upon arrival into spring training camp. Adam’s unique perspective on strength training, bridges multi-disciplinary training modalities creating an off-field training environment conducive to the on-field demands specific to baseball. It was this process that helped keep Miguel injury free and on the field during 2008 season.

Coming from a baseball background (as player, coach and strength coach) Adam is capable of earning the trust of ball players from all levels. He is an up and coming baseball strength coach who I believe ‘gets it’.

I endorse Adam and would recommend him not only for my own players, but for baseball players of all levels.

Gene Coleman, Ed. D., CSCS, FACSM
Strength & Conditioning Coach
Houston Astros Baseball Club

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Conditioning for Baseball Movements

Baseball movements are categorized as hitting, throwing, fielding and running. However, let’s focus our attention mainly on movements that support fielding and running. Collectively, these movements can be classified as linear (straight-line) and non- linear (multi-directional) movements that are short (distance) and explosive (power). Due to the fairly short distances experienced in fielding and running, top speed is rarely achieved; meaning that acceleration and an explosive first step should be the emphasis for baseball conditoning movement programs; not the often prescribed long slow distance training(aerobics).

Baseball conditioning programs should include specific movements targeted to improve situations on offensive (singles, doubles, run downs, passed balls, etc) and situations on defensive (charging bunts, fielding routine grounders, hits in the gaps, etc) specific. A perfect example is the 60 yards sprint which many of the baseball purists utilize as a testing protocol. I’m not opposed to running sprints as part of a conditioning program. I just believe that the sprints should be baseball specific. Such as timing your athlete from home to second – that’s 60 yards and that’s baseball. Now, I’m not suggesting that you forego the 60 yard sprint conditioning; continue with it as you will be tested for time. But ask yourself, would you rather be quicker in a straight line over 60 yards or would you rather leg out a double - a 60 yard baseball specific sprint ?

Here are some general baseball conditioning guidelines:

One: Upon the completion of the season, your athlete should take some time off. Once they return to training, implement a general conditioning/training program. The intention is just to get their body moving again. Enhance the integrity of and reacclimate the tendons, ligaments, bones, etc for the training stresses that will be experience in the upcoming training phases. Perform 2-3x per week for 2 weeks. This training can include general biomotor skills, dynamic flexibility, fucntional training modalities such as medicine and stability balls, bands, and free weights. Basic cardio modalities such ellipticals, stationary bikes, treadmills, versa climber can all be included.

Two: For approximately the next 3 weeks progress your conditioning by using the above mentioned cardio modalities for interval based training - repeated bouts of exercise that are short in duration, maximal in effort with sub-maiximal effort during rest - an example may be to sprint on a treadmill for 15s then jog for 30s and repeat.

Three Movement training to prepare for the linear and lateral field work. Ideal if this can be performed on the field, but not necessary. Linear work includes, but not limited to, drills such as the 60 yard sprint(to appease the purists),along with 30 and 40 yard sprints and short distance shuttles. Chutes, weighted vests, running/sprinting hills, tire drags/pulls are just a few modalities to incorporate. Lateral work will include agility drills performed over short side to side(left to right) distances, quickly and explosively...with minimal "game-like" rest. This type of interval training will provide baseball related cardio-endurance & foot-work. Ladders, hurdles, cones, etc are the types of tools that can be utlized for lateral trainng. At some point during this "phase" be sure that drills combine linear and lateral movements. Remember, baseball is neither lateral or linear...It's multi-directional. Performing 300 yard shuttles with a variety of game-like biomotor skills offers a way to train endurance along with linear and lateral movements.

Four: Approximately a month out from the season (includes tryouts, full squad practices, spring training, etc), spikes are on implementing various offensive and defensive baseball related movements. Offensively, implement base running drills: functional 60 yard sprints such as – home to 2nd, , 1st to third, etc, and functional 30 yard drills – base steal, and interval based run downs . It’s important that the ankles thus the knees begin to feel the edges of the bases and angles of the turns (these joints should be ready if you honored the proper strength training & conditioning progressions). Defensively, training includes ground balls (routine and in the gap), bunts, over the shoulder fly balls, etc.

Again, many coaches have their opinion on this subject. These are simply meant as guidelines.

--Go hard in the yard,


Monday, December 1, 2008

Tire Drags

Because baseball is a game of quick explosive bursts of power(over relatively short distances) it's rare that top end speed will be achieved. Therefore acceleration and 1st step quickness should be part of your baseball performance training. Along with acceleration, your training needs to include power based baseball movements with a hint of endurance via interval training. And by the way, we're not talking about long slow distance endurance(such as jogging miles and miles) but instead short, quick explosive movements such as running bases,run downs,tracking down fly balls, etc. Although chutes, hill runs, and incline treadmills can be prescribed to train for acceleration and improve baseball "endurance" (when needed), one of my favorite alternative exercises are tire drags. Glutes, hamstrings, quads will get pumped while taking your heart and lungs to new heights (via interval training; max intensity minimal rest) thus enhancing recovery. I know not everyone can get their hands on an old, used tractor tire, but if you can get it a try. It promises to build on-field recovery and stamia - minimizing late game fatigue.

Go hard in the yard--


Monday, November 24, 2008

The Five Tools

Baseball performance is measured by FIVE TOOLS. These tools are the gold standard for evaluating a player and are based on a scale from 2 to 8; with 5 being average. Not in any particular order the five tools are identified as:

1) Hitting for Average
2) Hitting for Power
3) Speed; offensively and defensively
4) Arm strength
5) Defensive/Fielding skills

Stay tuned for the arrival of my baseball performance website, .

Go hard in the yard.


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Baseball Grip Strength

As stated in my previous Training to the 5th Power blog, I commented on the importance of multi-joint training. As baseball players we cannot underestimate the importance of strong forearms. However, in various baseball performance training circles wrist curls, a single joint exercise usually performed sitting down and having minimal, if any, core involvement seems to be the exercise of choice for creating big forearms. Instead, train for grip strength as muscle integration goes beyond just the forearms. I know this is going to sound real obvious, but the grip strength necessary for hitting and throwing works in unison, not isolation, with the rest of the body. Therefore, training forearms with a single joint, isolated exercise (like wrist curls) just doesnt make sense. Instead perform multi-joint exercies/movements that require grip strength as a by product. One such exercise that also targets the core, is the recline row. Peforming this exercise greatly challenges grip strength so much that grip strength (or the lack of) becomes the limiting factor, not necessarily the prime movers. The recline row can be performed by utlizing nautical ropes (from gym class days) or, my favorite, the JC 2.5" clamp grip with JC 48" specialty straps, designed by JC Santana.

Visit for these and other training tools.

Be sure to maintain alignment from shoulders to ankles. Start at a body angle of approximately 45 degrees progressing to an advanced level or angle almost paralell to the floor. Each level will challenge grip strength in turn delivering strong forearms.

Go hard in the yard.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Training to the 5th Power

As many baseball purists are aware, baseball players are evaluated utilizing the measuring stick known as the five tools: hitting for average, hitting for power, running speed, arm strength, defensive skills. Complimentary to these five tools, are a series of 5 training protocols collectively known as ‘Training to the 5th Power’ (T5). Based upon the explosive and power nature of baseball, I believe that by following the five training protocols will transfer off-field training to on-field performance.

(1) Train standing;Training from standing positions trains the movements unique to baseball along with the respective muscle groups. Baseball players rarely rely on strength from sitting or lying down positions;yet exercises performed from such positions continue to dominate training programs. Utilizing modalities such as bands/cables from standing positions can target the same muscle groups typically trained from sitting or lying positions all the while training movements beneficial to baseball.

(2) Train with free weights; Free weights allow for multiple ranges of motion and multiple planes of motion(movement). Training with free weights, such as dumbells, allows for a bit more freedom of movment, unilateral training which can identify muscular imbalances between limbs,and builds neuromuscular efficiency (coordination of muscle groups). In addition, training with other free weight objects, such as medicine balls, provides power development. The ability to toss a free weight, such as a medicine ball, in a manner similar to hitting increases power potential of the muscles involved; making free weight objects superior to machines in replicating and increasing power.

(3) Train multi-joints – a.k.a compound movements; Movements involving more than one joint are referred to as compound movements. Multiple joint training allows for greater loads to be trained, therefore greater muscle recruitment, leading to greater strength development. I cant think of any movement in baseball that doenst involve the total body. Thus compound movements can deliver fluidity for on field performance...more so than single joint movements. In addition if your athlete needs to drop a few pounds then multi-joint, baseball specific movements can assist with increasing caloric expenditure.

(4)Train explosively; Slow and controlled movements are great for developing a certain level of strength. However, most baseball movements, even though strength based, are just as dependent on speed and power.Power can be defined as: POWER = WORK / TIME or POWER = FORCE x SPEED

Notice how power is dependent on speed. And the speed component explains the importance of explosive training for developing on-field, optimal baseball power.

(5) Functional Training (FT); Functional training is based upon training movements and not body parts. FT trains multiple planes of motions, in unstable environments, at baseball specific speeds. Basically, FT is “train like you play”. Functional Training supports the other T5 principles: Training in a standing position is functional for on-field activities; Training with free weights allows functional training along any plane and at any speed; Multiple joint, compound movement training is the way baseball is played, therefore functional. Much of how baseball is performed is power dominated, so training explosively becomes functional.

All in all implementing the T5 training guidelines are ideal for building overall baseball performance. However, like other training concepts,thereare exceptions in exchange for other effective results. For example, slow, isolated work in stable positions (i.e. lying down,) just might be necessary for the athlete needing a bit more muscle (hypertrophy). Take special note that although bodybuilders look great, I dont recommend an all exclusive use of bodybuilding methodologies for improving on field, baseball performance. The question which would you rather train for "all go" or "all show"?

Regardless of the type of training incorporated into your program, the majority should fall within T5.

Go hard in the yard.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Band Training

One of my favorite functional training tools for baseball performance training are Resistance Bands(RB). The bottom line is that RB provide the best opportunity to load all three planes of movement(Sagittal, Frontal, Transverse) to support the various dynamic, multi-directional movements seen in baseball. RB can be used to train all field positions, while having a great training effect on running, throwing and hitting. As well, when training with the right combination of reps, sets and proper resistance, bands can deliver both chronic and acute responses such as hypertrophy, strength and power.

The elastic nature of bands make them perfect for training acceleration and deceleration both of which are vital to baseball performance. As a band is stretched, the resistance progressively gets harder (increased levels of force) requiring a certain amount of strength and acceleration (concentric) to overcome the resistance. Just as important , is the ability to decelerate(eccentric) the forces which were stored in the band as it was stretched. The ability to slow/decelerate your body...under control... during athletic movements is extremely important as many injuries stem from the inability to decelerate forces under control. One of my favorite exercies to strengthen the hamstrings (via deceleration) is the single leg anterior reach (pics below). Great for infielders and outfielders alike when they need to field groundballs on the run. The band adds to the gravitational pull which requires the hamstrings to really slow down/decelerate the athlete's forward momentum and speed...under control.

Remember, as strength coaches our job is train our athletes in a manner consistent with on-field movements. Off field training needs to deliver on field performance.
Be a student of the game and watch every chance you get. See the movements that are actually being performed on the field aBe and then determine how bands can be used to train those movements. As JC Santana (my friend and mentor) tells me, train what you SEE not what you think you see. Stay creative.

Go hard in the yard!