Busting 3 Myths About Coaching Baseball Players
There always seems to be rhetoric that strongly pushes one idea while totally denouncing another. This usually comes in the form of “always do this” or “never do that”. With the training, and more specifically the training of a particular population like baseball players, there are far too many variables to speak of in absolute terms. When these ideas are pushed too far in one direction, we get the birth of myths, and while some of them may be well-meaning, they often end up misinforming people. With that in mind, here are three myths about training baseball players.
1. You should never, ever raise overhead
Baseball is an overhead sport, so saying you should never do anything overhead is a bit like telling a 100-meter hurdle that he should never practice at to jump. Are there times when baseball players should avoid going over the head? Absoutely. Examples include:
- If pain is present when passing over the head
- If they can’t do it safely with good form
- If the launch volume is very high and you want to pay attention to the total air volume
Where I think we get it wrong is in how we define overhead lifting. When we prescribe overhead movements, they don’t have to be your typical overhead press. For baseball players, it’s important that they get strong over the head. But even more important is that they have good body mechanics when going overhead.
Here are some things to consider when performing overhead moves:
- Does the scapula rotate upward and have a posterior tilt?
- Does the glenohumeral joint stay centered?
- Do the ribs stay low and the lumbar spine stay neutral?
Here is a progression pattern from Eric Cressey that will allow for safe aerial movement, progressing from safer to more advanced:
Yoga Push-Ups->Kettlebell Carry->Landmine Press->Bottoms-Up Kettlebell Press->Dumbbell Overhead Press->Barbell Press
As you can see from this model, not all aerial movements are created equal. Start at the location that best suits your needs or those of your athlete. When in doubt, go with the safest move and work from there. It’s important to remember that any lift can be dangerous if prescribed incorrectly, and overhead lifting is no different. But to say that baseball players should never, ever rise above their heads is a myth that needs to go.
2. Lifting weights will make you “tight”
It’s something that I feel like almost every sport has experienced at one time or another. Basketball, baseball, football, gymnastics – athletes and coaches from each of these respected sports have shared their concerns and fears about lifting weights, believing weight training will make them tight, bulky and unable to perform as desired in their respective sport.
But as many baseball players who have improved their game in the weight room will tell you, this fear is unfounded. And the research backs them up.
If lifting weights makes you really tight, bulky, slower, less flexible, or all of the above, chances are you’re doing the wrong exercises or using the wrong form. I think the “lifting makes you tight” narrative comes from the notion that all lifting is like weight training. If you train like a bodybuilder, you will move like a bodybuilder. Perform lifts and moves that increase range of motion, athleticism, and functional strength, and you won’t have to worry about getting “tight.” And in the long run, you’ll dominate any competition that’s afraid to set foot in the weight room.
3. Baseball players only need power in the frontal plane
From Olympic lifts to squats to box jumps, power development can be achieved through several methods. But baseball is a little different from other sports. Like other sports, baseball requires power. However, it requires it in both frontal and transverse planes. In other words, it is better to be powerful laterally and not just in a straight line if you want to succeed. A single-leg lateral jump would be a better indicator of baseball-specific power than a large vertical leap, just as being able to perform a spinning ball throw with power is a better way to measure your training success than a big vertical jump. a Max Bench Press. .
Here are several drills that can help baseball players develop that all-important cross-plane power:
- Single Leg Lateral Jumps
- Medball Toss Variations
- Side walking sleds
Power can be a great tool for any athlete, but that power needs to translate into the game to be useful. For baseball players, this means power must be developed in both the frontal and transverse planes.
Hopefully this article has dispelled a few myths that have long surrounded practice and baseball players. When training to improve your baseball performance remember it is okay to train overhead, lifting has been shown to make you more flexible and power development should be done with lateral movements in mind. Train smart, train right, and don’t let a myth stop you from becoming a better ball player.
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