Functional strength, power, and fitness in the baseball athlete. I go way back in the day when I was playing with the New York Yankees. We would have, and I still see it today, in today’s ball player, that they have an off-season strength and conditioning program. Really when these athletes come in here and you look at them and you ask them how was that program designed, was there any type of a assessment, any type of functional movement screen or anything like that. Most of these athletes will come in here and tell you, “No, the club hasn’t done anything for you, they just create program”, and say, “Hey, go ahead and lift”, but what we’re doing, when we’re talking about division one level college players, who may have aspirations of playing professional baseball, or mainly guys who are high school guys who have an aspiration of getting a division one scholarship, or a college scholarship, to be able to further their amateur career, or minor leaguers, for that matter, who are really excited about the opportunity to chase their childhood dream of being able to play in the big leagues.
Power and strength, and being able to move, and generate power, is really, really, really important. The other factors that are important, is being able to generate that power and that strength, and be able to get bigger, quicker and stronger, but also to train yourself to recover as fast as you can, and to keep yourself on the baseball field. It’s really the only way you are able to advance, is to continue to play, and be on the field, and be healthy, and not have a history of injury. What happens is, we find out that the lifting programs that a lot of these players have, at this point in time, is one that is actually, might be hurting them. I remember my high school coach, football coach, told me long time ago, that a muscle didn’t know what it was getting stronger for. That’s true, however, you can be lifting a weight and getting it to exercise and stretch and do things that are counterproductive to the activity that you are trying to prepare your body for. That’s what we see on the power and strength side.
My philosophy, and not necessarily philosophy, what we think about power and fitness, and strength, and speed production, is that, you have very little precious time to develop your that. Everything should be in a functional movement, strength capacity. You should be building your body up for that activity, to be as strong and explosive, and as quick as you possibly can. You’re strength and power is extremely important. I talked to a doctor recently about, when should kids start to lift heavy weights. He really didn’t have an answer for me. He says, “You really don’t know unless you get them in the room, and you put them in an x-ray, and see how the bones are structures, and how the body’s progressing, and things like that”, but he would really be more inclined to have those guys do resistance training, and explosive movements, and quick twist movements until the body is full developed so they can go from that. With that being the case, yes, we want kids to lift and get stronger, but we also want them to be functionally relevant in their sport.