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Baseball is a strength and power sport in which on the field actions display multi-directional quickness, short bursts of acceleration and occasionally top-end speed with bouts of longer duration recovery. Training programs should be based on the movement and energy requirements of the sport in order to maximize the on-field performance of players during the competitive season (Table 1). Speed and power endurance training should be performed using repeated bouts of sub-maximal to maximal intensity during sprinting.

Inspection of Table 1 indicates that the dominate energy system used in baseball is the anaerobic alactic system and the predominate sources of energy are adenosine triphosphate, creatine phosphate and glycogen1

 

Table 1. Energy system, work load and recovery in baseball
Predominant

Energy System

Work load

(sec)

Recovery (sec)

(Work: Rest)*

 

Reps

ATP-PC

 

Up to 15 sec 30-60 sec

(1:12-1:20)

Determined by periodization plan
Anaerobic –

(Fast Glycolysis)

15 sec- 2 min 2 min

(1:3-1:5)

Determined by periodization plan

 

* Work: Rest ratios can be adapted based on time of season and goal of training.

Table 2 contains an example of a sprint program that has been used successfully with professional baseball players in the past. Intervals and different sprint combinations can be used for position-specific conditioning for position players and pitchers. Conditioning can be individualized to accommodate positions, and or individual needs by varying the starting position and/or joint angles or by working against an implemented resistance to meet the off-season, pre-season and in-season needs.

Table 2 can be used as a guideline to develop a sprint program. For example, position players in Week 1 might run short sprints (6×30 yards) on Monday and a slightly longer sprint (6×60 yards) on Thursday. Each sprint should be completed in the time specified and use the recovery protocol recommended. A sample 4-week program is presented in Table 3 below.

 

Table 2. Example of sprint program for baseball
Sprint Distance

(yards)

Duration

(sec)

Recovery Between Reps (sec)
10 – 20 2 – 4 10
30 4 – 5 15 – 20
40 5 – 6 15 – 20
60 7 – 8 20 – 30
90 10 – 12 35 – 45
110 15 – 20 45 – 60

 

 

Table 3. Four – Week Sprint Program
Monday:

Short sprint

Monday:

Short sprint

Monday:

Short sprint

Monday:

Short sprint

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
6×30 in 4-5 sec

Rest 15 sec

6-8×30 in 4-5 sec

Rest 15-20 sec

8×30 in 4-5 sec

Rest 20 sec

8-10×30 in 4-5 sec

Rest 20 sec

Thursday:

Mid-length sprint

Thursday:

Mid-length sprint

Thursday:

Mid-length sprint

Thursday:

Mid-length sprint

6×60 in 7-8 sec

Rest 20 sec

6-8×60 in 7-8 sec

Rest 20-25 sec

8×60 in 7-8 sec

Rest 20-25 sec

8-10×60 in 7-8 sec

Rest 30 sec

 

Sprint drills can be used in team, position and individual settings to address strengths and weaknesses. Strength and conditioning coaches need to determine the frequency, intensity and volume of training based on planned and unplanned factors such as time of season, frequency of games, single game vs. double headers, day vs. night games, player recovery, in-game work – number of times on base, total bases, length of game – and etc.

In a perfect world coaches could follow a pre-planned periodized program, but professional baseball does not consistently follow a structured plan. Multiple things can and often do change in professional baseball. Coaches frequently have to make adjustments to accommodate travel, lack of sleep, access to equipment, day games after night games, extra-inning games, injuries, etc. Pre-planned periodized programs have to be adapted as needed.

While baseball is primarily an anaerobic sport, coaches must incorporate methods that build an aerobic base and enhance physical work capacity to help facilitate recovery between pitches, innings and games. This is often accomplished by using tempo runs, repeated sprints and interval runs2.

References

  1. Baechle, TR and RW Earle, Roger W. Essentials of strength training and conditioning. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL, 2008.
  2. Burgomaster, K, et. al. Six sessions of sprint interval training increases muscle oxidative potential and cycle endurance capacity in humans. Journal of Applied Physiology 98(6):1985–1990, 2005.

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Anthony Velazquez, RSCC is a two-time Minor League Baseball Strength Coach of the Year (2016 and 2017) and is currently the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Trenton Thunder, the New York Yankees Eastern League affiliate.

 

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