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

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.