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

Friday, June 25, 2010

Olympic Lifts for baseball strength training…Really?

Just so we’re on the same page, baseball is a rotational sport. So while recently looking over a collegiate baseball summer training program I couldn’t help but notice Olympic lifts were included. Really?

Olympic lifting is a sport in and of itself that includes lifts such as the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk. These lifts require a tremendous amount of technique, a high learning curve and demand a high level of skill specific to the sport of Olympic lifting.

So why are these movements/exercises finding their way into the world of baseball training? I know, I know Olympic lifts can create powerful hips; and they do…in the sagittal plane of motion – which is not the dominant motion in baseball. Baseball is dominated thru the transverse/rotational plane.

Structurally, Olympic lifts could create abnormal (and high) levels of joint stress - particularly thru the shoulders and wrists- (let’s not forget about the force that's placed on the knees). I think we would all agree that the knees, shoulders and wrists are important to a ball player, thus we wouldn’t want to risk an off-season injury.

I’m not against Olympic lifts – I MIGHT incorporate them (MAYBE) if the athlete has a better than average base and understanding of Olympic lifting. However, I haven’t seen too many baseball players having been properly exposed to these lifts. Therefore I have to ask myself how important is it to teach and incorporate a potentially “risky” movement in order to develop sagittal plane hip power when baseball is dominated by rotational power. What's the reward:risk ratio?

Now, Im not saying we shouldnt do any sagittal plane power training. I just believe that in order to save the shoulders, wrists and knees we can choose safer alternatives (such as box jump or reverse medicine ball toss) can be performed BUT IN CONJUNCTION with rotational power training. Lastly, you may find yourself working within a limited time frame; so wouldnt you rather spend your time on related baseball training than taking up valuable training time to teach exercises (which may not get mastered) that are unique to the sport of Olympic lifting.

Train Hard. Train Smart.

Go hard in the yard.


Thurman Hendrix said...

I absolutely agree. I've been saying the same thing to my baseball players over the past years. Olympic lifts simply take too long to master when there are other ways to develop power such as a simple rotational row done explosively on a pulley machine or medicine ball throws.

chriskolba said...

Adam makes some great points that are hard to argue with even though some will. Too many programs of all sports are dominated with o-lifts or body building lifts that just arent specific to the sport. As Adam points out there much more efficient ways to train an athlete that incorporate all planes of movement and better prepare them for their specific sport. O-lifts can be an effective component to a program and do have merit, but as Adam states most players lack the skill to do it properly and the time spent teaching could be better spent developing your athlete to play ball.
Keep spreading the word brother!

AB said...

Thanks CK. Well stated. I know my position doesnt conform with the norm...that's ok. And it may even stir up a little dust..and that's ok too. It's a good thing. See you soon bro. -AB

Bradley said...

O lifts are correlated with verticle jump hight and vertical jump hight is correlated with pitching velocity and linear speed. O lifts create an explosive power athlete. The idea is to make your self a power athlete in the weight room and keep the baseball skills on the field. The rotation that you speak of in hitting and in pitching starts in the legs back side pushes against a strong front forcing your hips to rotate faster than you could ever rotate them by just spinning. The more explosive you are, providing you develope proper mechanics on the field, the faster your hips will rotate and that force will be transfered either to the bat or to the throwing arm. No matter what sport you play O lifts have a place in the speed and strength training you do in the wieght room. Why do so many hitters get better in college? Why do so many pitchers gain velo? They get stronger and more explosive. Just my take of course.

Background said...

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and sharing your comments Bradley. A few points to consider: 1) the forces used for baseball's rotational power does not originate in the legs but rather in the core. The Power is transferred to the legs. 2) Olympic lifts do provide power development; I simply believe there are other/safer ways to capture power for the baseball player. Thanks again Bradley.