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Truth About Baseball Power


Truth About Baseball Power

by fastballusa

While you drink your coffee this morning I figured I would share with you.....

The Truth About Baseball Power 

This one is for those who want to play baseball at higher levels.
This one is for those who play multiple sports.  
This one is for those who specialize in just baseball.  

4 Reasons why many can't throw, hit, or run faster. 

Plus Common Sense Truth about playing multiple sports or specializing in baseball only. 

Baseball Power - What is it?

The explosive athlete must be able to move their own body weight.  In fact the easier it is to move your body, the faster you may go.  You have to dominate your body weight.  

The big mistake people make in terms of power is they think you have to be big and strong and I seriously disagree with this concept. 

For example.....

Dustin Pedroia is not a big guy.  He is not a muscular guy.   He is very explosive at his sport.  

Tim Lincecum is quite skinny and small.  He is also not a muscular guy, but in his prime was throwing an upper 90's fastball. 

Is Tim Lincecum strong?  Yes.   He is baseball strong.

In fact if you look at the 4 new hall of famers you can say none of them were bulky.  Randy Johnson tall, John Smoltz tall, and Pedro and Biggio very small.    Not bulky.  

But Wait.........

Prince Fielder from the outside does not look like he is in the best shape in the world.   The reality is Prince Fielder is strong and explosive.   He has the strength to get his body moving fast as it relates to baseball.  He can move his body. 

CC Sabathia does not look from the outside to be in great shape.   Sabathia has the secret of being able to get his body to move.   In fact when he lost weight it was reported he lost MPH on his fastball. 

The real question is.....

Can your athlete move his own body weight explosively?  

Regardless of body type or size, explosive athletes can take what they have and generate speed as it relates to their sport. 

Have you ever seen a "big" guy where everyone claims he is strong but the reality is he is very, very weak?

Have you ever seen a "small" guy where everyone assumes he is weak but the reality is he is very, very strong?

Of course big does not equal strong or explosive and small does not mean weak.  

The body type does not determine the explosiveness, it's the strength within that particular body.   You might look good a beach but can't generate 90mph of ball exit speed. 

This is no different than assuming every skinny guy is fast.   

Baseball Power is getting your body to move both lateral and rotational.   Power is dominating your body weight to get the body to move faster.   In baseball rotational power is needed to throw and hit harder. 

The Problem........

I run in to plenty of baseball players across the United States who are strong but they still lack explosiveness.   How could this be?

Strong and baseball strong is not the same.    We can take some very strong and bulky football players and put a baseball in their hand and it does not mean they will throw hard. 

In fact from what I see, baseball players all over the country in high school and college are bulking up and NOT seeing the power results they should be seeing.  

Remember that power is your ability to move your body.   In terms of baseball moving the body includes flexibility, and being able to rotate, and stretch the muscles to build and release energy.    If you lack the ability to rotate because your too tight, or the ability stretch the right muscles in the body to create a spring like or rubber band effect, then your power will be limited. 

Push up's and pull up's and bench pressing does not make a powerful baseball player.   It certainly could help but training the body to move in one direction is NOT the answer.   I hear stories all the time about how much a baseball player can bench or how much he can squat, but the numbers in the weight room are not in many cases equaling higher numbers in throwing or hitting MPH.  

While everyone is different, here are some RED FLAGS that I have seen that will certainly limit baseball power. 

# 1   The In-ability to move your own body weight.   As sad as this is we have baseball players across the America who suck at doing a push up.   These are the same players who are passionate about baseball, take private lessons, play in a lot of games, and then they can't even move their own body weight.     For me this is a major RED FLAG.   It's difficult to add power when you're weak.   It's also dangerous to add throwing speed when you lack the basic strength needed to become more explosive. 

# 2    The players who look strong but they struggle with flexibility and specifically the ability to rotate easily.    If you can't rotate, it's difficult to create power throwing a baseball or hitting a baseball.    These are the guys who are great in the weight room and will run away when they see a yoga class.    Rotation is power in baseball.   You have to be able to move.  

Note -   I'm assuming in football the QB should not be training the same way a lineman would train.    Their function for their position is quite different.   The QB needs the ability to rotate where the lineman is mainly focused on linear and lateral movements.  

The question would be can you prove that your weight training is in a positive way impacting your ability to throw a baseball with added MPH, or hit a baseball with great ball exit speed or distance?     If not, then why are you what we are doing?  Why work if the work is not paying off?

# 3     Some type of scapular dysfunction or simple lack of back side strength.   I am not at PT, but I can tell when someone has little backside strength or obvious scapular issues.   While not all of these issues impact MPH, typically you can see a lack of scapular development is a RED FLAG FOR a lack of strength.     Adding speed to this type of player can be flat out dangerous.    In fact many arm issues can be traced back to have a S.I.C.K. scapula. 

# 4    Slow movement pattern from constantly working outside the ATP-CP system.  
In simple terms, it's difficult to be explosive when your constantly recruiting slow twitch muscle fibers  instead of quick twitch muscles which help you move faster.   This is huge.  If you program your body to move slow, it will move slow.  Period. 

For those who believe multiple sports is a good thing, I believe just like anything else, "it depends" on what your doing. 

For example......

Cross Country  -   For years people have believed that endurance is crucial for a pitcher and even a position player.    The reality is when you run long distances for long duration your body is programming itself to move slower.   You are not training inside the jet fuel system which is ATP-CP, you are training yourself to survive the activity. 

Basketball -    I used to believe that basketball was tremendous conditioning for baseball but I have seen over and over basketball players have a tough time adding on VELO depending on their strength level. 

Why?   In basketball you do use some quick twitch, but mostly you are running up and down a court and trying to survive the activity.   In many cases players lose weight, and actually get weaker.   Losing weight and getting weaker does not translate into MPH.    Training a slower movement pattern does not translate into MPH.  

While I also like athletes playing other sports it should be noted that maintaining strength and or flexibility is huge for a baseball player.   Focusing on training inside the ATP-CP system is also very important.  

Football -  In football they are inside the same energy system as baseball.   The play is over inside of 6 seconds.   It's an explosive followed by a rest.  So is baseball.   It takes less than a second to swing a bat and less than 3 to deliver a pitch.   Football is all ATP-CP.

The problem or RED FLAG with football is the weight lifting associated with your position.   The QB seems to match up the best with being a baseball player.   The worst would be the positions that require the most bulk.   

Can a football player be really good at baseball?  Heck yes.   Look at Jeff Samardzija.  Also note that he was a wide receiver not an lineman.  I'm assuming his weight lifting program is not the same as a lineman. 

So what about other sports?

The problem is in my opinion is that too many become baseball only but they don't attack baseball training like their second sport.   They fall into a belief that baseball players don't have to be very athletic.

The mistake of baseball only people

If your a baseball only guy, then doing private lessons once a week and taking some swings, and doing weightlifting on your own or with your team is nowhere near what you need to be doing.   

The mistake of those who think multiple sports is the answer....

On the other hand thinking that playing multiple sports is a good answer I would say "it depends" on what your doing.    The problem is that it truly takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become elite.   When you divide your time into other sports, it takes away from working towards the 10,000 hours needed to become great.    Playing basketball does not make you a better hitter, and serves very little purpose for rotational power. 

I believe in rotational power so much that I even highly encourage those who become Pitcher Only players, to continue to train swinging a bat.   It's a great opportunity to train rotational power without even throwing a ball. 

If your playing multiple sports you need to be aware of what your up against.  It does not mean you can't become a more powerful or become an elite baseball player but it takes being smart and finding ways to keep chipping away at the 10,000 hour rule. 

If your playing just baseball you have to be really careful of becoming un-athletic.   Remember, CC Sabathia and Prince Fielder are big guys but they are very athletic and very strong, and very explosive.    If you're a small guy you have to still be able to become baseball strong like Pedroia or Lincecum.  

The most explosive baseball players I have ever been around get this really well. 

A.   They Focus on building a bigger motor while being athletic and explosive.  
B.   They throw and they hit a lot.  Very skill specific for their sport. 
C.   They practice with intensity and the intent to throw hard or hit hard.
D.   They put in the time (10,000 hour rule) it takes to become elite.

Back around 2003-2004 we started a program at Fastball USA they we referred to as our Black Belt Pitching Program.   The program is strongly based on the "Athletic Pitcher" program designed by Ron Wolforth of the Texas Baseball Ranch.  

Since then we realized the importance of training position players and pitchers and how much of an impact this system plays towards hitting a baseball or even defensive position play in addition to pitchers. 

The Black Belt program has become our core program.   It is designed for baseball players to become baseball strong and baseball explosive.   Many even claim it has directly helped them in other sports. 

The Black Belt concept challenges each individual to improve their own personal strength level and improve their ability to move as it relates to baseball.   The Black Belt concept also reinforces the concept of training inside the correct energy system.  

The Results........

Over 10 years later we have seen a major change in our results.   Especially in the past 5-6 years since adding position players. 

7 Times a Fastball student has become drafted into professional baseball

Several became D1 athletes and now are playing collegiate baseball who started as youth players and trained with us through high school. 

Over 100 players, have now either thrown a baseball or hit a baseball over 90mph or more. 

11 Players have even reached the 100mph club.   2 players throwing and 9 others hitting. 

2x we have had a student throw 100mph - 1 of them at age 16.  

A Sixth grader hit ball exit speeds of 87mph and throwing speeds of 81mph. 

How is this?

You see in the last 10 years or 10,000 hours plus I have spent training baseball players,  I have seen what does work and what does not work.   My mission is to assist players who are passionate about improving, and help them work smarter, and to give them opportunities and the environment to become better. 

Mindset is also a crucial part our entire program at Fastball.  We don't baby sit.  We expect players to be self motivated.   We create an environment in which improvement is almost impossible not to have.  We are always looking to improve 1% each month. 



Director of Baseball Training at Fastball USA
Coach Ryan has spent 14 years as an Associate Scout with the Seattle Mariners organization, and has been running Fastball USA since 2001. Coach Ryan has spent nearly 20 years as a professional baseball instructor specializing in hitting and pitching.
email: fastballusa@hotmail.com.

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