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

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Training to the 5th Power

Baseball players are evaluated using the “measuring stick” known as the Five Tools: hitting for average, hitting for power, running speed, arm strength, defensive skills. Utilizing a series of 5 training principles, collectively known as ‘Training to the 5th Power’ (T5), baseball’s Five Tools can be enhanced. These five training principles have been shown to provide a seamless transfer from “in-gym” training to “on-field” performance.

(1) Train in ground-based, standing positions:  Baseball players rarely rely on, or need, strength from sitting or lying down positions. However, although these training positions should not be ignored, they should represent a small percentage of the overall training program.  Instead, majority of your training program should comprise of (or built upon) ground-based, standing positions. These positions require a rigid, stable core from which to accelerate, decelerate and stabilize the forces necessary to enhance baseball’s power related movements and their respective muscle groups.  Furthermore, the same muscles trained from sitting or lying positions can also be trained from standing positions; engaging other stabilization muscles necessary for enhancing baseball functional strength. As an example, the chest, shoulders and triceps are activated when performing the bench press. However, while the same muscles are activated during the standing cable press (SCP), it also places a training emphasis on core stability thus enhancing the training value of the SCP.

(2) Train with free weights: Because baseball is a multi-directional sport, the utilization of free weights allows for multiple ranges of motion and multiple planes of motion (movement) to be effectively trained which may not be possible with machines that often move in only a single plane of motion.  Training with free weights, such as dumbbells, provides freedom of movement, unilateral training (which can identify muscular imbalances between limbs) and builds neuromuscular efficiency (coordination of muscle groups working together). In addition, other free weight objects, such as medicine balls, provides for power development. As an example, the ability to throw a medicine ball, in a manner similar to the rotational demands for hitting can increase the power potential of the muscles involved in that activity. When it comes to replicating movements to enhance power development, free weight objects become superior to machines.

(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 can’t think of any movement in baseball that doesn’t involve the total body. Thus compound movements provide a greater transfer for on-field performance - more so than single joint movements. A simple example is performing a squat variation vs. a seated leg extension. In addition, should your baseball player need to drop a few pounds then multi-joint, baseball specific movements can assist with increasing caloric expenditure.

(4) Train explosively - or what I like to call Speed-Strength
Baseball is a game consisting of powerful, explosive movements requiring strength & speed. Therefore, POWER development becomes vital to the on-field baseball performance demands.  And based upon the following formula, power depends upon two necessary training components: strength and speed.

                   POWER = FORCE x SPEED
- OR -

              Powers = Strength x Speed.

Because power is extremely reliable on the amount of strength your ball player possesses it’s extremely important that the strength phase of your training program does not get skipped. Worth noting, is how equally important it is to create and maintain core stability (core stiffness) from which this power is generated as well as transferred.

(5) Functional Training (FT); Functional Training can be viewed as training in manner that is consistent with an intended activity regarding specific ranges of motion, planes of motion and baseball speeds. In other words, think less about isolating muscles and more about integrating movements.

All this being said, like other training concepts, there are 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 don’t recommend an all exclusive use of bodybuilding methodologies for improving on field, baseball performance; so ask yourself a simple question: would you rather train for "all go" or "all show"?

All in all, the T5 training guidelines ought to be considered for building overall functional baseball performance. In other words, “train like you play”.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Ground Reaction Forces...again

At  FTBPT we believe in the idea of Ground Reaction Forces. In other words, feet on the ground training. I know it sounds simple enough but it never fails that whenever I.m asked to review baseball training programs the one exercise that is constantly recommended for baseball performance training is the seated leg extension machine (for the quads). You know the one. The one with the feet OFF the ground which goes against "the feet on the ground" training principle at  FTBPT. Instead of the seat leg extension try another approach. Get a sled or a tire hook it up to your athlete and walk backwards for about 20 +/- yards. Knee extension is required when walking backwards and will hammer away at the quads...with feet on the ground.

Out train the game!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Traditional Lifts...Not always

It shouldn’t be about how strong you are in the gym; it should be about the strength and power that’s obtained in the gym that can  be transferred onto the field.  In other words, do you want to be gym-strong or do you want to be field strong. And field strength doesn’t always have to come in the way of traditional lifts.

Case in point. One of my MLB athletes this past off-season did not perform the traditional chest press (flat or incline, floor or bench, dumbbells or barbells). Not a single repetition, not a single set. Instead, we created a chest press that would optimize the strength and power he already has. And in the process, give him slight gains and/or improvements that he would otherwise not acquire from traditional chest pressing. Our chest press exercise was performed with feet fixed on the ground, in a staggered stance position, to take full advantage of ground reaction forces all the while integrating muscles and NOT isolating muscles. The benefits (in addition to chest, shoulders and triceps) are brief yet impactful: Hip-flexor mobility of the rear leg, anti-trunk extension that delivers serious core stiffness and shoulder stability, and scapula mobility. The amazing thing is this, not only did we not compromise his power and strength we actually gave him improvements that enabled him to utilize more of the strength and power he already has.  Here’s what the exercise looks like… 

Although this exercise has quickly become one of my favorites, it wasn't until last Monday that I realized that traditional lifts dont  always have to rule the training program. 

It was Monday night (July 14, 2014) that the MLB client I referenced earlier, won the 2014 All Star Game Home Run Derby for the second consecutive year; only the second player to repeat and first to do so since Ken Griffey Jr did it in 1998 and 1999. 
And that client is none other than Yoenis Cespedes. One of the strongest and more powerful players I have had the privilege of training. 

Sometimes being non-traditional is more than ok - it may just provide the results you need and more. 

Felicitaciones Yoenis. Todo Potencia. 

Out Train the Game...and re-think what's in your toolbox. 


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Yoenis Cespedes announced as 2014 All Star

For the past 2 off-seasons Yoenis has selected FTBPT for his off-season performance training. That's why it is with great pleasure that I add the title of "All-Star" to his name as it appears to the left under my training roster of clients.

Get powered by FTBPT. Yoenis has.

Out train the game.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

5 Reasons for all the Tommy John Injuries in MLB

My great friend Chris Kolba from The Sports Medicine and Fitness Fanatic shares this post from Mike Reinold pertaining to the recent surge in Tommy John injuries.

Thanks for sharing Chris.

The Sports Medicine and Fitness Fanatic: 5 Reasons for all the Tommy John Injuries in MLB: Reposted from The baseball season is only a few weeks old and we’ve already seen an impressive amount of MLB pitchers n...

Out Train the Game!


Monday, May 5, 2014

Welcome to Florida!

Welcome to Florida! Home of year-round baseball, from little league to high school.

Is the idea of no real rest just as disturbing to you as it is me; especially in light of the recent rash of elbow injuries and Tommy John surgeries which Dr James Andrews has attributed to year-round “competitive” throwing.  But the issue for rest & recovery is equally as important for position players as it is pitchers. So the solution should be fairly simple: just don’t play year round. Easier said than done in Florida. There’s impeccable weather, fields everywhere, late winter/spring baseball, then highly competitive summer travel ball (scouts galore), and then there’s fall ball. And then it starts all over again. Sure rest is possible, just not practical. This is unfortunate as our future professional baseball players miss out on an opportunity to truly rest and recover while making appropriate strength gains. Furthermore (by playing baseball year-round) they miss out on the athleticism that can be acquired from playing other "off-season" sports capable of making them more athletic baseball players.

So when dealing with the year-round Floridian baseball player we should first, encourage the athlete and his family to seriously consider “significant” time off  (R&R) from baseball as part of their year-long plan – in other words let the body repair itself from the stress that has been placed upon it from the demands of baseball; and just because you don’t feel sore doesn’t mean that you don’t need to recover and rest. However, getting them to “buy” into this idea of rest is going to be an uphill battle.

So here’s the deal; Florida baseball players just aren't getting adequate rest. Since this is the situation we will more than likely be faced with then we need to get involved. We need to make sure that the ballplayers rest when they can and that they are implementing well thought-out strength training and conditioning programs that are designed to: 1) continue to reduce the incidence of injury and 2) continue to enhance/maintain on-field performance.  These training programs need to be organized and structured as if it’s a 12-month in-season program; in some regards it really is. Based on this “12-month” thinking we should first consider what can be minimized or possibly eliminated all together. This is merely a partial list, yet they represent a foundational-start for establishing that 12-month, in-season “Florida” training program.

       (1) Minimize or eliminate in-gym agility drills. These drills are typically predictable type drills and just take away our focus from valuable training time.  Weekly practices, pre-game infield/outfield and actual in-game action will be enough work for your players to get  “real”, open-loop (unpredictable) agility drills.

(2) Minimize or eliminate actual rotational drills in favor for more Core Stiffness drills that emphasize anti-flexion, anti-extension, anti-lateral flexion and anti-rotation of the trunk. For the same reasons outlined above, with running, throwing and hitting weekly practices and games provide plenty of actual explosive rotation. Therefore, it’s more advantageous to improve/maintain core stiffness in order to help handle these rotational demands.

     (3) Minimize or eliminate isolation training all together in favor of total body training programs. The idea is not to stress individual joints by training muscles in isolation but rather to distribute training forces over multiple joints and multiple muscle systems. Training muscles in isolation are more susceptible to DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) than if we spread forces over multiple muscle groups. This is extremely important - as it's possible on-field injuries could be exacerbated if your baseball players are on the field (whether it be practice or game situations) with muscle soreness acquired from isolation training. This cannot and should not happen.

      As an example, consider a machine-based chest press vs. a ground-based, split-stance cable chest press: the machine-based version isolates muscles, while the ground-based version engages multi-muscle systems. Both target the chest, shoulders and triceps however the split-stance cable press provides additional advantages such as: ankle stiffness, hip flexor mobility, anterior core stiffness, and free motion of the scapula.

       SIDE NOTE: it has been researched that we are only capable of pressing approximately 30%-40% of our 1 Rep Max during the split-stance cable press; not because the pushing muscles lack the necessary strength but because there is a lack of core stiffness (stability). This is referred to as Stabilization Limited Training (SLT) 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.  In other words, during functional ground based movements, such as split-stance (S-S) cable press, the prime movers can only provide the amount of force that the core and related stabilizers can support. 

The whole point is to increase total body strength that can be expressed on the field and not necessarily in the gym. Does this mean that we don’t do any traditional exercises that isolate muscles? Not at all. We have our players implement them, only when they can provide adequate rest and recovery during an off-season.

All in all, here in Florida rest & recovery will continue to be a precious commodity.  When it happens fantastic. And when it doesn’t we simply express our concerns and share our “year-round, in-season” training philosophy.

As my friend, Ryan Faer- Baseball S&C Coach for DeLand High School Bulldogs shared with me, "the best ability is availability".  If you’re hurt due to a lack of rest, inadequate recovery or inappropriate “in-season” training then what difference does it make how many scouts are in the stands to watch you? You wont be there.

Out train the game.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Get out of the Ice age.

You experience an injury OR you just threw a complete game and you feel the need to minimize potential INFLAMMATION so you reach for a bag of ice. But before you do...It is imperative to watch this video. Icing is not the solution.

Out train the game.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Get in from the cold

Gary Reinl, author of ICED! The Illusionary Treatment Option is an intriguing fact based book on why ICING is not the best approach for dealing with injuries and related inflammation.  Find out why icing delays the healing process; thus possibly making your stint on the DL longer than necessary.

Get the book. Get the facts. Get informed.

Train hard. Train smart.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Vertical Jump Test- Don't fall In love with It

It's in my belief that the need to perform the standing jump assessment/test is not necessary, because jumping high doesn't necessarily mean you'll throw harder. The power that's displayed in pitching and jumping are not similar; there are some clear cut differences. The vertical jump test is a 2-leg explosive activity performed in the sagittal plane. Contrary, pitching is an explosive-power activity in which forces are transferred from one leg to the other (making it a 1-leg activity) in the frontal plane, and from shoulder to opposite hip (core rotation) thru the transverse plane. Therefore power development for pitchers ought to be frontal and transverse plane dominant rather than sagittal plane.

Still not sure what to think. Here's some more great info.

Ask yourself one simple question, are you training for a test or are you training for on-field performance?

This is a perfect opportunity to train smarter.

Out train the game.