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,
- 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