Professional Baseball Strength & Conditioning


In an earlier posting, “Sledgehammer Training for Baseball – The Overhead Swing”, we discussed the benefits of sledgehammer training and outlined the procedures used when hitting an oversized tire with a sledgehammer with an overhead swing.  This posting will outline how to perform the sledgehammer diagonal chop.

Swinging the sledge. Keep it simple. Remember, hitting a baseball is hard enough; you don’t need add another elaborate swinging technique to your training program. Stick to the basic movements, the overhead chop and diagonal swing.  Each will allow you to exert explosive force while maintaining proper form.

For the two-handed diagonal swing, stand in front of and approximately 1-2  feet away from the tire with your feet in a staggered stance. Place your left foot forward with the sledgehammer on your right side when chopping from the right shoulder and vice versa when chopping from the left side. Using a staggered stance will allow you to generate more hip action on the way down.

12When swinging from the right side, grip the hammer with you left hand at the bottom of the handle, and your right hand up closer to the head. Reverse this hand position when swinging from the left side. Set the abs, flex the knees and ankles and slowly bring the sledge up and over your right shoulder in controlled manner. Slide your right (top) hand up towards the head of the hammer as you bring it up and then slide it down to join your left hand as you slam the hammer down as explosively as possible and control the bounce. This is one rep. Return to the starting position under control and repeat for the prescribed number of reps. Stop when you can’t maintain proper form. Perform all reps on one side. Rest 90-120 seconds and repeat on the opposite side to help maintain symmetry between sides, improve coordination and avoid one-sided dominance. Start with three sets of five reps on each side with 90-120 seconds of rest between sets (3×5). Be explosive on every rep, so take more rest as needed. Gradually progress to 3×10.  Increase the weight of the hammer when you can do 3×10 with perfect form.

Do hammer swings two times per week with at least 2 days between training sessions during the off-season and pre-season. For variety, do vertical swings on one day and diagonal chops on the other. Sledgehammer swings are an excellent supplementary, explosive, total body, training tool. Please see video McMahon and Pichardo, Sledgehammer Training for Baseball – The Diagonal Swing on the website for more information.


Eric McMahon, M.Ed., CSCS, RSCC, is the strength and conditioning coach for the Frisco Roughriders, Texas Rangers. Napoleon Pichardo, CSCS, RSCC is the Minor League Strength and Conditioning Coordinator, Texas Rangers.

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