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

Monday, September 30, 2013

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Stabilization Limited Training

Stabilization Limited Training (SLT) is a form of training in which the production of force and execution of movement is limited by the strength of the stabilizers and not necessarily of the prime movers involved in a particular exercise.  Another way to interpret this is that in functional movements the prime movers can only provide the amount of force that the core and related stabilizers can support.

A case in point: the Stability Ball Push-Up (hands on ball, feet on floor) recruits and requires far greater core stability & shoulder stabilization than a seated chest press machine.

All in all, by improving core & joint function, Stabilization Limited Training can:
  • Improve joint integrity
  • Improve force production efficiency
  • Decrease injury potential

Train smart. And out train the game.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Bodybuilding, Baseball & the Core

For the purpose of adding muscle there’s nothing better than stabilized environments such as machines and benches from where athlete can sit or lay down.  Such stabilized positions enable you to target specific, single or multi-joint muscles in isolation; the idea behind bodybuilding principles. This approach make sense for those baseball players (and other athletes) who need to add muscle, establish a strength-training base and can commit a good 6-8 weeks to this particular phase of their training program.  

Now, all that being said, please don't make bodybuilding principles the whole platform from which your baseball training programs are built. Since many of the bodybuilding exercises are performed from seated or lying down positions, they often don’t transfer very well to standing positions. Thus making the transfer of forces a bit different. In a published study, Juan Carlos Santana, Francisco Vera-Garcia and Stuart McGill found that only a fraction of our body weight can be pressed from standing positions. The participants in their study demonstrated an ability to press approximately 95% of their bodyweight in the 1RM Bench Press.

However, from standing positions they were only capable of pressing approximately 30-40% . This becomes a fairly important distinction because the limiting factor in the standing cable press is not the strength of the shoulders or chest, but rather core stability.

As I’ve stated on numerous occasions, baseball is played from standing positions and therefore should be trained from such positions (Functional Training) in order to maximize the development of core stiffness; the epicenter of force production. Furthermore to maximize the transfer of forces thru the chain of joints (kinetic chain), the joints (links of the chain) need to be stabilized; and this best accomplished from standing positions.  The importance of all this joint stability is that if  any one of these joints along the chain presents instability, then force production is leaked and thus limited. 

The take home message should seem obvious – get off the floor to train core stiffness (core stability).

Out Train the game!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Ground Reaction Forces -GRF-

So what does it man when you hear someone refer to Ground Reaction Forces (GRF)!  Generally speaking it means that the ground is responding to (reacting to) the forces that the body has exerted into the ground. The amount of forces the body drives into the ground equals the amount of forces the ground then reacts to and provides these forces back thru the rest of the body, particularly upper or lower body segments, for a particular movement/action.

And of course the Legs and Hips (L/H) is where this force originates from...Right?  Nope, not in my opinion.  Forces get transferred to the L/H and ultimately into the ground, but it's not the L/H from where forces are originated.  Forces originate from within the CORE. (see blog May 5, 2013 "Core Stability-an absolute must!")

Need more information. I came across an article from the January 2011 issue of The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. It stated the following-  "Core stability is achieved through stabilization of one's torso, thus allowing optimal production, transfer, and control of force and motion to the terminal segment during a kinetic chain activity".  And in baseball, this activity is rotation

To further clarify, research performed by Hodges and Richardson, two renowned Physical Therapists,  examined the sequence of muscle activation during whole body movements (kinetic chain activity) and found that some of the core stablizers (TVA, Multifidus, abdominals, and obliques) were activated (core stiffening) before limb movements (terminal segment). All in all, the body transfers forces from CORE to LIMB(s), and the forces we are generating pass thru the entire body (the entire kinetic chain).

Why is this so important? It's because many core exercises are STILL being performed on our butts. And core exercises from the seated/lying down positions do very little in creating the core stiffness necessary for establishing rotational power. In other words they dont transfer very well to on-field baseball performance. I advocate the importance of core stiffness (anti-rotation, anti-flexion, anti-extension, anti-lateral flexion) exercises for all my clients but especially for my baseball players across all levels. Core stiffness/stabilization plays a tremendous role in maximizing ground reaction forces necessary for baseball's rotational power as seen in throwing, hitting & running. 

The Paralell Stance 1-Arm Cable Press is just one example of a core stiffening drill that has positive implication for baseball rotational demands:

Out train the game...and get off the floor to train the core.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

2013 HR Derby Champion

For reasons that go well beyond this blog, Yoenis Cespedes couldn't be more deserving for his recent accomplishment of winning the 2013 MLB All-Star Game HR Derby.

Our off-season strength & conditioning program had been designed with a few goals in mind:
1) Evaluate & enhance previous strength training and power  
    development to improve transfer from gym to field
2) Enhance on-field performance
3) Reduce the incidence of injury
4) Extra curriculum - ASG, maybe HR Derby, and hopefully post season (better to be prepared than not)

The entire world now knows Yoenis Cespedes. There were some serious sluggers in this years HR Derby. Everyone competing in the HR Derby wanted to win. After all, they are competitors. They want bragging rights and in the process they want to win/raise money for a host of charities. However, we cant ignore how taxing the first half of the season has been on them. Trips to the DL, HBP's, fights, hard slides, etc, etc. Then to go out and swing out of their shoes with such intensity and such power over and over and over again. The amount of trunk stability (core stiffness) necessary, not only for the pre-, in-, and post-season games but also for the multitude and magnitude of swings during HR Derby competitions, should not be overlooked; and needs to be greatly appreciated and embraced. So it goes without saying that they need to be in shape. Being baseball-ready, being in baseball-shapre doesn't happen mid-season and definitely not during spring training. It happens in the off-season; off-season strength & conditioning programs are vital and they better more than a pat on the back. They are vital not so much for unanticipated events such as HR Derby, but vital inorder for you to provide, the end user (the athlete himself, the coaches, the Front Office, etc), the best product  possible for 162 plus games. From a strength & conditioning perspective, baseball players should be in baseball strength and their conditioning should be game-ready when arriving to camp. In other words, out train the the game because In-season performance happens in the off-season.

Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland A's
2013 HR Derby Champion

Out Train the Game...Yoenis does and now Yo knows HR Derby


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Athletically Skilled or Performance Enhanced

Lazy But Talented. Really?  I just can't get behind such a message.

I don't give a crap how talented or skilled you THINK you are or how many of baseball's Five Tools you have.  If lazy is in any way shape or form is part of your DNA (in life or in baseball) then keep walking. I'd rather have an athlete that only possesses 2 or 3 of the Five Tools but understands the value of hard work, to enhance the performance skills/tools that he does have; this athlete is the first in the gym (and on the field) and last to leave. This athlete understands that it's one thing to have skill, it's another to enhance those skills thru proper integrated baseball performance/strength training.  This athlete also has what the "lazy but talented" athlete doesn't have...mental fortitude. This is the mental strength to work hard towards his goals; to work when 'lazy' is sleeping; to work when 'lazy' takes their skill-set for granted; to make grilled chicken for dinner when 'lazy' goes thru the drive-thru for fried chicken. Get the point point - It's easy to be lazy and it's easy to see. Again, it doesn't matter how good you are or how good you think you are, laziness will erode your skills.

Be committed, dedicated and responsible to your talents.

All in all, our motto is OUT TRAIN THE GAME. and leave your Lazy at home


Friday, May 17, 2013

Functional Baseball Performance Training - FBPT

  The training principles behind Functional Baseball Performance Training (FBPT), are based upon the industry training concept known as Functional Training. Upon reading many strength training journals, attending multitude of training based workshops, the essence of Functional Training can be para-phrased as follows:

Training in a manner that is consistent to the intended activity with regards to planes of motion, ranges of motion, and speed of movements. 

Honestly, the ideas behind Functional Baseball Performance Training arent much different; just simplified.   FBPT consists of:
- Standing, ground based movements...Not sitting or laying down
- Multi-planar movements...not single 
- Integrating multiple muscle groups...not isolating specific muscles

However, because Functional Baseball Performance Training requires the integration of multiple muscle groups to create stabilization from standing positions, FBPT might not be the best approach for adding size (hypertrophy). For example, (traditional) bodybuilding methodologies of slow, isolated training from stable (laying/sitting down) positions  just might be necessary for the baseball player needing a bit more muscle. Now, although bodybuilders look great, I do not advocate an all exclusive use of the bodybuilding approach for improving on-field baseball performance. The ideal training scenario is to create a hybrid program which contains traditional and functional. You have to ask yourself, would you rather train for "all go" or "all show".

Out Train the Game!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Core Stability - an absolute must!

Baseball components such as hitting, throwing, fielding, and running share a common movement: rotation.  Such rotational movement patterns are driven through the musculature of the core/trunk - of which a majority is oriented horizontally or diagonally.  This non-linear orientation of the core’s musculature supports the importance of rotational training for baseball.

The core’s ability to rotate is made possible by the contra-lateral connection between one shoulder to the opposite hip. This connection allows forces to be transferred, in a diagonal pattern between the upper body and the lower body. In turn, this diagonal pattern supports  rotational forces typical in baseball.   

Despite these ‘rotational’ baseball components, a variety of crunches and sit-ups (sagittal plane) continue to take center stage as the abdominal (core/trunk) exercises of choice for baseball players. These exercises are typically performed slow, in a single plane of motion and on the floor with zero to minimal rotation. Baseball consists of short, quick, explosive, multi-directional movements - from standing positions - requiring a rigid, stable core from which to accelerate, decelerate and stabilize forces. If the core is weak and unstable, then maximal forces cannot be expressed; let alone transferred to other parts of the body.  

Think of the body as a chain - a chain comprised of healthy strong links - the upper body, the core, and the hips/legs (lower body). Most players realize the importance of lower body and upper body strength for on-field performance.  However, many fail to realize the importance of proper core training that establishes core stiffness.  The amount of trunk(core) stiffness determines the amount of ground reaction forces that are created, routed into the ground and then re-routed back up thru the core and onto the other “moving parts” (extremities) involved in a particular movement. As an example, the trunk briefly stiffens just prior to the hips rotating thru a batting swing.  It is this stiffness that allows for powerful hip rotation followed by rotation of the trunk leading to a subsequent increase in bat speed. 

Regardless of the rotational component , the sequence for Ground Reaction Forces is as follows:

CORE: genesis of forces – where force is generated. Spinal stabilization/ Core Stiffness is necessary in order to ensure the maximal amount of force can be used. An unstable/weak spine diminishes the amount of forces that can be created

LEGS/HIPS: transmits forces from the core to the ground

GROUND: Force is routed to largest stable mass (ground) via the extremities (legs) thus importance of ground based training. The ground reacts, or gives back exactly what we give it. (Ground Reaction Forces)

LEGS/HIPS: transmits forces back up from the ground to the core

CORE: command center – decides where the forces are to be expressed either out the top (upper extremities) or back down (lower extremities)

To support on-field performance, your off-field baseball training program should incorporate rotational, anti-rotational, anti-flexion, anti-extension, and anti-lateral flexion movement patterns to develop a strong and rigid/stable core to ensure maximal transfer of rotational strength between the upper body and legs/hips.

Out Train the Game!