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Upper Deck Power - Renegade Style

Posted in: Articles by ProSource, Training Articles
By John Davies | Jan 30, 2009

Within the sporting world the notion of sport-specific training or training for sport is packed full of fallacies. Spread over rock-solid facts on how to train properly for sport is a vast array of clichés and slick marketing lines. Possibly the sport most plagued with highly questionable "training advice" is baseball.

Baseball, the grand old game, is a sport that I grew up on. The ball and glove were part of my make-up and rarely out of reach. The days and nights were filled with the game but the game was more than that, it was part of our heritage that connected with the past. I grew up hearing of stories of what it was like to dig into the batters box against a barnstorming tour of future legends pre-WWII. Regardless of how the game changed it, always maintains a brilliance that is challenging to describe.

To many, including myself from time to time, the grand old game looks to be on the ropes. Tarnished with the indecency of drug abuse and escalating salaries, the idea of the game as the backdrop of the great nation seemed gone. Yet the game survives. In its simple beauty, it has dusted itself off, and got back up, just like a batter after a close-shave fastball. And now the sport of baseball is on the verge of a massive boom in playing popularity that hasn't been seen in over thirty years.

From a coaching standpoint, there is much work to be done. With this in mind, I offer you part 1 in a series, " Upper Deck Power." Part 1 of this series will quickly review three major faults in training today, with future parts going through putting the plan in place.

First and foremost, it must be understood that baseball is a highly unique sport with incredible technical demands. The level of skill mastery needed to excel within its discipline might be more challenging than that found in all other major team sports in North America. The science of the swing is a befuddling art where great players at one level are swinging in the wind at the next. While many will try to build the body of a major leaguer, they quickly learn that that does not guarantee success. For many, they find their training has actually harmed their playing abilities. This spring, we'll see a collection of great physiques at Double A, who sadly just can't get around on blue heat.

One of the greatest flaws in training for baseball is the improper use of training mediums that do harm to the swing. The notions of heavily weighted training instruments akin to a bat, used in the swinging motion must be abandoned at all costs, as well as the individual who recommends it. I am dating myself on this but while Willie McCovey could swing the heavy lumber, there are very few in history who could do the same. At no time should a player use a weighted device that will measurably slow down the speed of the bat action or develop negative patterns of movement that impede the swinging of a bat.

The second major flaw in training for baseball is the use of isolationist movements and the use of machine-based training. While many in the sport have gained attention with their physical development (for reasons less flattering to the sport) it needs also be noted the extraordinary technical ability they possess. While repetitious, Double A and leagues well below are full of fine young athletes with tremendous physiques who assumed they could hit the weight room and make their way to the show.

Unfortunately this course isn't valid because players are not training correctly. This is a little deeper issue than most of my typical concerns with isolationist and machine-based work, as within baseball it stems from very old notions of players injuring themselves in the weight room, causing strain to key shoulder and elbow joints and the other old idea of being "muscle-bound" and being too slow to play. In the oddest of ways these concerns have validity because the level of coaching in baseball has been so low that problems have occurred because athletes were trained improperly.

It is a particular maddening truth that correct training measures received a poor reputation because they were never put into place correctly. Unfortunately the sports' reaction a number of decades ago was to push a weight room agenda with exercise stations that isolate particular muscle groupings that ultimately would lead to bigger ballplayers but not better ones. This is a massive error because to train for baseball you need whole-body compound lifts that are based upon a foundation of powerful legs, hips and trunk.

However "strength" isn't enough. Baseball players cannot simply hit the iron and become better. From a purely athletic vantage, the sport requires tremendous "rotational" flexibility, which is something few show concern with in most training environments. The peculiar balance of building a "rock solid" foundation is that the body must maintain its suppleness.

With these ideas firmly in place now we can move forward. We've got a lot of work to cover in areas rarely touched upon but in the end you'll be ready to with Upper Deck Power. And with spring on the horizon, its time for the Grand Old Game!


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Disclaimer: The articles featured herein are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Specific medical advice should only be obtained from a licensed health care professional. No liability is assumed by ProSource for any information herein.

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