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summary: In-season baseball training is very important to maintain players' strength/power and conditioning. However, there are numerous training approaches used to accomplish these goals. The purpose of this article is to display actual in-season baseball strength and conditioning programs used for various positions at the Division I collegiate level. Furthermore, readers may want to evaluate their own program, learn some new ways of training players, and possibly make some adjustments to their players' in-season program. (C) 2007 National Strength and Conditioning Association
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Collegiate Baseball In-Season Training
David J.Szymanski, PhD,CSCS, *D
Louisiana Tech University, Ruston,Louisiana
© National Strength and Conditioning Association
Volume 29,Number 4, pages 68–80
Keywords: baseball training; strength/power training; resistance
training; conditioning; agility; rotator cuff; medicine ball training
Baseball strength and conditioning
has changed considerably over the
past 10–15 years. Although it is
now hard to believe, at one time baseball
coaches did not want their players to lift
weights for fear of becoming “too big
and bulky.” The days of playing to get
into shape and not performing some
type of resistance training and condi-
tioning are long gone. Furthermore,
even though the game may take hours to
play, baseball is a quick, powerful, reac-
tionary sport that takes a relatively short
period of time per play (1). The longest
amount of time that one play may take,
such as an inside-the-park home run, is
approximately 17 seconds. The remain-
ing plays last from approximately 0.3 to
4.5 seconds, depending on whether it is
a swing of the bat or a sprint to first base.
Today, if a player is not training to be-
come stronger, faster, and more power-
ful during the off-and preseason, he
would be lagging behind those who did.
However, the way in which one trains
for baseball is, to some degree, still a
matter of opinion based on personal
playing and coaching experiences, what
one reads in strength or research jour-
nals, or what one reads on the Internet.
In order to develop a sound training
program that addresses both offensive
and defensive movements, one needs to
know and understand the relevant sci-
ence that will elicit the desired training
adaptations. In particular, one should
be familiar with daily and weekly undu-
lating power periodization for acyclic
(single) and cyclic (repetitive) sport
movements. Since baseball movements
are powerful, acyclic (hitting or throw-
ing movement), and cyclic (sprinting),
it is important that readers understand
these concepts. Readers are encouraged
to read about strength training peri-
odization strategies written by Bompa
and Carrera (3), Coleman (5), and Plisk
and Stone (15). This information will
provide guidelines to attain optimal
performance outcomes and may offset
possible injuries.
In order to become stronger, faster, and
more powerful, a year-round periodized
training program must be designed and
implemented. Periodization is a com-
prehensive training plan that typically
divides the training year into 4 different
phases: postseason/active rest, off-sea-
son, preseason, and in-season (4, 14).
This article will address the in-season
training of collegiate Division I (DI)
baseball players and should not be exact-
ly replicated for other levels of play. In-
season training for other collegiate play-
In-season baseball training is very important to maintain players’strength/power
and conditioning. However, there are numerous training approaches used to ac-
complish these goals. The purpose of this article is to display actual in-season
baseball strength and conditioning programs used for various positions at the
Division I collegiate level. Furthermore, readers may want to evaluate their own
program, learn some new ways of training players, and possibly make some ad-
justments to their players’in-season program.
68 August 2007 Strength and Conditioning Journal
ers (DII, DIII, NAIA), high school, and
professional baseball players will be dif-
ferent. Therefore, if one trains baseball
players that are not at the DI level, they
should modify this program to meet the
daily schedule, time restrictions, and the
various training facilities they will use.
The in-season training phase for each
level of competition is a different length
of time. For the collegiate player, it may
be from February to mid-June. At the
DI level, the scheduled season is typical-
ly 16 weeks, with an additional 4 weeks
if a team gets to the College World Se-
ries. For the high school player, it may
be from March to May. For the profes-
sional player, it may be from March to
October. Thus, strength coaches must
take the duration of the season into ac-
count and adjust their program accord-
ingly. Furthermore, strength coaches
must examine how often the player will
actually be playing, hitting, and throw-
ing. Is it 3, 4, 5, or 6 days a week? A
component that seems to be often over-
looked by strength coaches is the
amount of throwing players complete
per day and season. This is typically due
to the collegiate strength coach’s very
busy schedule of training other universi-
ty sport teams. They are not usually
around the athletes as much as the base-
ball coaches and do not know what is oc-
curring at baseball practice on a daily
basis. For some baseball players, this
may substantially affect their strength
training sessions. At the DI collegiate
level, most players throw 6 days a week.
Therefore, all of these variables must be
looked at closely before designing an in-
August 2007 Strength and Conditioning Journal
Table 1
Weekly Progression of In-Season Training Program for Core Exercises
Week Intensity Sets Reps % of 1RM Rest Loading Pattern
1 H 4 6 65, 65, 65, 55 90 sec Low
L 4 6 50, 50, 50, 40 90 sec
2 H 4 6 75, 75, 75, 65 90 sec Medium
L 4 6 60, 60, 60, 50 90 sec
3 H 4 6 80, 80, 80, 70 90 sec High
L 4 6 65, 65, 65, 55 90 sec
4 H 4 6 70, 70, 70, 60 90 sec Download
L4 655,55, 55, 45 90 sec
Note: Core exercises are multi-joint movements such as squats,Romanian deadlift,
1 dumbbell (DB) row,and DB bench press. Last sets are “down”sets per formed with maxi-
mum effort and executed as fast as possible.Perform “hard” day for starting and closing
pitcher’s lower body and upper body days.Perform “hard”and “light”days for middle-relief
and position players’full-body resistance training program.1RM = one repetition maximum,
H = hard,L = light.
Figure 1. Standing twisting wall throw: (a) starting position (loaded);(b) twist and throw; (c) catch ball and decelerate. Throw ball
against wall in the opposite direction.
season training program. The reason for
this statement is to make strength
coaches aware that they will need to be
flexible and make modifications to their
programs at some point in time.
Individual Positions
If a sport-specific periodized strength
and conditioning program is not imple-
mented into a baseball player’s daily in-
season program, the strength gains that
were developed in the off- and preseason
will begin to diminish within 1–4 weeks
of cessation of training (11). Therefore,
strength coaches must consider the needs
of each position before implementing an
in-season program. There are 2 general
types of players: pitchers and defensive
players. However, each of these positions
can be further broken down. There are
starting, middle-relief, and closing
pitchers. Additionally, there are outfield-
ers, infielders, and catchers. Each of
these players has different caloric expen-
70 August 2007 Strength and Conditioning Journal
Table 2
Example of a Collegiate Starting Pitcher’s 5-Day Rotation Program
Days 1 & 6: pitch 1. Throwers 10 rotator cuff program (active
recovery): 1–2 sets of 15 reps
2. Ice: 15–20 minutes (optional)
Day 2: recovery (light) 1. Moderate intensity (65–75% HRmax) jog (20
poles: left field to right field line) or swimming
pool (any stroke except freestyle & back stroke):
20 minutes
2. Rotator cuff & upper body exercises (performed
for recovery)
a. Throwers 10 rotator cuff program (2–5 lb
DB):1 ×10
b. 1-arm DB row (25 lb):1 ×10
c. Push-up plus (body weight): 1 ×10
d. DB hammer curls (10 lb):1 ×10
e. DB triceps extension (10 lb): 1 ×10
3. Medicine ball:Torso
a. Standing torso circles (5 kg):2 ×10 (warm-up)
b. Standing figure 8:2 ×6
c. Standing twisting wall throw: 2 ×6 (Figure 1)
d. Seated twists:2 ×10 (Figure 2)
e. Seated trunk rotation: 2 ×6 (Figure 3)
Day 3: hard 1. Throw bullpen: 2 ×15 pitches
2. Speed endurance
a. 5 ×200 yd (left field to right field corner):30
sec with 60-sec rest
b. 5 ×100 yd (left field to center field): 15 sec
with 45-sec rest
3. Agility drills
a. Fetch & catch: 2 ×10 (A form of ball pick-ups)
4. Medicine ball: Whole body (explosively)
a. Overhead toss: 2 ×6
b. Squat & push:2 ×6 (Figure 4)
5. Throwers 10 rotator cuff program:rubber tubing
(2–5 lb: slow):2 ×15
6. Lower body workout (hard)
a. Squats (core)
b. Romanian deadlift (core)
c. Pitcher ’s step-up (raise leg with hip flexion)
d. Lateral lunge
e. Calf raises (optional)
Figure 2. Seated twist. Rotate side-
to-side as fast as possible
using trunk. (a) Starting po-
sition; and (b) end position.
Make sure head and shoul-
ders rotate.
ditures, playing frequencies, and physi-
cal requirements to play that particular
position. For example, the estimated
total caloric cost of playing a 2-hour
baseball game for a 180-pound player is
960, 1,080, and 1,440 for fielders, catch-
ers, and pitchers, respectively (13). A
starting pitcher may only perform once
every 5 days, while some relief pitchers
and position players may play and prac-
tice 6 days a week. At the DI level, the
centerfielder, short-stop, and second
baseman may typically be fast and quick
without demonstrating true homerun
power. The other outfielders may also be
fast and quick, but demonstrate more
homerun power. The corner players (first
and third basemen) and catcher usually
are not as fast as the players “up the mid-
dle” but may be more powerful hitters.
An effective periodized in-season pro-
gram must accomplish 4 objectives:
(a) address the appropriate energy
systems, (b) maintain the player’s
strength/power, (c) assist in the recov-
ery process, and (d) reduce the chance
of injuries so players remain on the
field. Physiologically, baseball move-
ments are quick, powerful movements,
which emphasize both of the anaero-
bic energy systems (16, 17). Approxi-
mately 80% of the energy is supplied
by the ATP-PC system, 15% by glycol-
ysis, and 5% from oxidative phospho-
rylation (aerobically) (9).
To maintain strength, speed, and
power, but at the same time have a pro-
gram that is position-specific, function-
al, and aid in the recovery process, a
strength coach must control intensity,
volume, frequency of training, and
speed of movement, in addition to hav-
ing days of rest for players. Intensity
refers to the strength of the stimulus,
volume refers to the amount of work
completed, and frequency is how often
a training stimulus is applied (5, 10).
Speed of movement refers to how fast or
slow an exercise is performed. It is rec-
ommended that the eccentric (down or
August 2007 Strength and Conditioning Journal
Table 2 Continued
Example of a Collegiate Starting Pitcher’s 5-Day Rotation Program
Day 4: moderate 1. Low/moderate intensity plyometrics (optional)
a. Squat jumps: 2 ×10
b. Standing long jumps:2 ×6 consecutive
c. Ice skaters: 2 ×10
2. Sprints
a. 5 ×60 yd (8 sec with 60-sec rest)
b. 5 ×30 yd (4 sec with 30-sec rest)
3. Medicine ball:Throwing
a. Chest pass: 2 ×10
b. Twisting woodchop throw: 2 ×6 (Figure 5)
c. Speed rotations: 2 ×6 (Figure 6)
d. 1-Leg overhead balance throw: 2 ×10
(Figure 7)
4. Throwers 10 rotator cuff program: 2 ×15 (ballistic)
5. Rice bucket routine: 2 ×30 sec
a. Forearm flexion/extension
b. Wrist pronation/supination
c. Wrist ulnar/radial deviation
d. Grabbing
6. Upper body workout (hard)
a. 1-arm DB row (core)
b. Alternating DB bench press (core)
c. DB hammer curls
d. DB triceps extensions
Day 5: light 1. Light intensity (50–65% HRmax) jump rope
(various jumps): 6 ×50
2. Ladder drills: various movements
3. Balance beam (optional)
a. Pitcher’s squat: 2 ×10 (Figure 8)
b. Pitcher’s toe touch: 2 ×10 (Figure 9)
4. Abdominal/low back routine
a. Oblique crunch: 2 ×15
b. Slow bicycles:2 ×30
c. Double abdominal crunch:2 ×25
d. Superman:2 ×15
5. Scapula exercises
a. Scapula push-up: 2 ×10 (Figure 10)
b. Scapula dips:2 ×10
c. Reach backs: 2 ×10 (Figure 11)
6. Body blade routine (switch exercise every 30 sec:
a. Shoulder press
b. Internal/external rotation at 90°
c. Internal/external rotation at 0°
d. D 2 flexion/extension
e. Lateral raise
f. Front raise
g. Biceps cur
h. Triceps extension
D = diagonal, DB = dumbbells,HRmax = maximum heart rate
negative) portion of the lift be slow and
controlled while the concentric (up or
positive) portion of the lift be as explo-
sive as possible (2). One reason for the
controlled eccentric action during
upper body exercises is because the
muscle involvement in throwing is
largely eccentric, especially after ball re-
lease (8). The deceleration phase of the
throwing motion eccentrically activates
many of the posterior upper body mus-
cles to slow the arm down (8). Behm (2)
states that eccentric training has been
found to be more effective than concen-
tric training alone in strengthening
muscle. Since baseball movements are
quick and powerful, players should be
encouraged to perform the concentric
portion of the lift explosively (2). Behm
also states that regardless of the velocity
of movement, it is the attempt to per-
form a powerful movement that
achieves the high-velocity, specific-
training effect.
Program Design
As stated earlier, the DI collegiate base-
ball season is 20 weeks long if a team goes
to the College World Series. In order to
periodize the in-season training pro-
gram, five 4-week microcycles that re-
peat are used. Microcycles are short
training phases that typically last 1 week,
but may be as long as 4 weeks, depending
on the training program (5). The first 3
weeks of core, strength/power training
(multi-joint exercises such as squats, 1-
arm dumbbell row, and dumbbell bench
press) are progressively increased in in-
tensity each week. The fourth week is a
download or reduction in intensity, al-
lowing for a brief restitution period (15).
For players that will perform 2 days of
full-body resistance training (middle-re-
lief and position players), there are
“hard” and “light” days, which differ in
intensity by 15%. The starting and clos-
ing pitchers will perform hard days for
their programs, which have separate
lower and upper body days. During each
week, the players are performing 4 sets ×
6 reps of each core exercise. The last set
has a reduction in intensity of 10% from
the percentage used in the first 3 sets.
The reason for the decrease in intensity
for the last set is to allow the player to
perform with maximum effort and exe-
cute the exercise as fast as possible.
Therefore, there is the combination of
strength and power within the same set.
This 4-week progression is based off of
strength training periodization strategies
reported by Bompa and Carrera (3),
Coleman (5), and Plisk and Stone (15).
72 August 2007 Strength and Conditioning Journal
Figure 3. Seated trunk rotation: (a) place ball behind back;and (b) rotate to other side
of body to pick-up ball and repeat.
Figure 4. Squat and push: (a) beginning
position; (b) descent (parallel
squat position); (c) explosively
jump and release ball.
Plisk and Stone (15) refer to this type of
cycle as “summated microcycles.” They
describe 2 benefits from this type of
training. First, “it increases the probabil-
ity of converging training effects while
minimizing the likelihood of overstress
or accommodation/involution problems
(15).” Second, “it adds an aspect of
inter-mesocycle contrast that may stimu-
late adaptation over the long term (15).”
Auxiliary (single-joint) exercises, such as
biceps curls, triceps extension, and fore-
arm exercises are performed at 2–3 sets ×
6–10 reps (5). For an example of the 4-
week progression see Table 1. This mi-
crocycle is then repeated 4 more times
over the course of the season.
A periodized in-season training program
will integrate exercises that address
sport-specific flexibility, mobility, bal-
ance, coordination, footwork, agility,
strength, speed, power, trunk stability,
and torso-rotation strength. This article
will describe how to train pitchers and
position players with various exercises
and pieces of equipment. Designing an
in-season program that has high, medi-
um, and low loading pattern days of
training will allow players daily varia-
tions and the ability to control intensity
and volume of training (3). This will re-
duce the chances of over-training and aid
in recovery. Also, having off days, where
no training or playing occurs, will assist
in a player’s recovery. This should reduce
the chance of injury because the program
addresses all of the sport-specific compo-
nents mentioned previously in a compre-
hensive, periodized training plan.
In each of the different tables, one may
read the word “optional” next to a drill or
exercise. This is where the strength coach
or player will have the ability to decrease
the total training volume, especially to-
wards the latter part of the season when
the player may need less work and more
recovery so they can perform optimally on
the field. If a baseball team makes it to the
College World Series, volume should be
slightly decreased while maintaining in-
tensity. Furthermore, in Table 1 all exer-
cises, sets, and reps are listed. In the other
tables, if one reads the same general head-
ing, such as “Medicine ball: Torso,” the
same exercises, sets, and reps are to be per-
formed by that specific player. However,
it is recommended from experience that
the medicine ball routine progressively
vary from week to week. For whole body
and torso medicine ball exercises, use 3, 4,
5, and 4 kg balls for weeks 1–4, and for
double-arm throwing medicine ball exer-
cises use 2, 3, 4, and 3 kg balls for weeks
1–4. This keeps the program progressive,
consistent, and manageable, while at the
same time attempts to mimic the move-
ments of hitting and throwing a baseball.
Also, make sure that rotational and
throwing medicine ball exercises are per-
formed on both sides of the body for bal-
anced strength/power development.
Throughout the in-season program it is
recommended that players use dumbbells
August 2007 Strength and Conditioning Journal
Figure 5. Twisting woodchop throw:(a) beginning flexed position;(b) rotation;
(c) bring ball over head; and (d) explosively throw ball to the ground in
front of head.
(DB) for various upper body exercises.
This is because the act of throwing in
baseball is unilateral, one side indepen-
dent from the other. Making sure that
both arms are individually addressed is
important because the amount of throw-
ing a player has completed will affect how
sore the throwing arm is from day to day
or week to week. Using DB also allows the
neutral grip (palms facing in) to be ad-
ministered to the bench press movement,
placing less stress on the shoulder capsule
as the exercise is executed. However, if
you do not have DB, use the barbell and
make modifications to the exercise if nec-
essary. Modifications can be made by
placing a wooden board(s) or rolled up
towel (3–6”) on the sternum. When the
barbell is lowered, it should touch the
wooden board or towel, then be lifted to
74 August 2007 Strength and Conditioning Journal
Figure 6. Speed rotation: (a) starting
position (catch ball thrown
from partner); and (b) rotate
to other side of body and re-
lease ball back to partner.
Make sure to keep arms fully
extended.Then rotate back
to original position to re-
ceive another chest pass.
Table 3
Example of a Middle Relief Pitcher’s Program
Monday (moderate) 1. Sprints
a. 5 ×60 yd (8 sec with 60-sec rest)
b. 5 ×30 yd (4 sec with 30-sec rest)
2. Agility drills
a. Fetch & catch: 2 ×10
3. Medicine ball: Whole body
a. Underhand toss: 2 ×6
b. Squat & push:2 ×6
4. Throwers 10 rotator cuff program (rubber tub-
ing: 2–5 lb):2 ×15
5. Full-body workout (hard)
a. Squats (core)
b. Romanian deadlift (core)
c. 1-arm DB row (core)
d. Alternating DB bench press (core)
e. DB hammer curls
f. DB triceps extension
g. Calf raises
Tuesday (game or off-day) 1. Pitch
2. Throwers 10 rotator cuff program:1–2 ×10
Wednesday (off-day
or practice): hard
1. Low/moderate intensity plyometrics (optional)
2. Speed endurance
3. Balance beam (optional)
4. Medicine ball:Throwing
5. Scapula exercises: 2 ×10
6. Rice bucket routine: 2 ×30 sec
Thursday (moderate) 1. Sprints
2. Ladder drills
3. Medicine ball:Torso
4. Throwers 10 rotator cuff program (rubber
tubing: 2–5 lb):2 ×15
5. Full-body work-out (light)
a. Squats (core)
b. Romanian deadlift (core)
c. Seated rows (core)
d. Alternating DB incline bench press (core)
e. DB hammer curls (optional)
f. DB triceps extension (optional)
g. Calf raises (optional)
Friday, Saturday,& Sunday (Games): Possibly Pitch
DB = dumbbells.
the starting position. This will prevent the
athlete from placing additional stress (im-
pingement) on the shoulder capsule since
the bar cannot be lowered to the chest. Fi-
nally, in agreement with Toyoshima (20),
the most important areas of the body to
focus on for baseball training are the legs,
trunk, and throwing arm. These areas dic-
tated how exercises were selected and the
order in which they were placed in this
program. This is important for both of-
fensive and defensive purposes since most
all movements in baseball require power-
ful, full-body rotational movements.
Starting Pitchers
According to Potteiger and Wilson (16,
17), pitching involves intermittent
high-intensity contractions of relatively
short duration. Due to the intensity
level and duration of pitching, the pre-
dominant energy system required dur-
ing pitching is the ATP-PC system (16).
Thus, when designing an in-season pro-
gram for a starting pitcher, the coach
should develop the pitcher’s anaerobic
energy systems with a consistent daily
training program that becomes progres-
sively less intense as the pitcher gets
closer to his next start. This way the
starting pitcher has a scheduled routine
and knows what to expect prior to each
performance. Furthermore, the program
must be position-specific and functional.
This is accomplished by integrating exer-
cises that address flexibility, balance, foot-
work, agility, strength, power, torso-rota-
tion strength, and the pitcher’s throwing
arm (1, 4, 6, 7, 10, 14, 17, 19, 22).
Regardless of the type of pitcher (start-
ing, middle-relief, or closer), the coach
must also take into consideration the
number of pitches thrown during the
previous game, the number of days be-
tween pitching appearances, and post-
August 2007 Strength and Conditioning Journal
Figure 8. Pitcher’s squat:(a) beginning position; and (b) execution of 1-leg squat.
Figure 7. One-legged balance overhead throw: (a) starting position,and (b) end
76 August 2007 Strength and Conditioning Journal
Figure 9. Pitcher’s toe touch:(a) beginning position; and (b) end position.
Figure 10. Scapula push-up: (a) starting position; and (b) end position.Retract scapula in bottom position.
Figure 11. Reach backs: (a) starting position; and (b) end position.Body weight is balanced by stabilization of the shoulder as the
eyes follow the free-hand while body twists.
pitching muscle soreness. Generally,
starting pitchers throw anywhere be-
tween 100 and 130 pitches per game. A
middle-relief pitcher may throw between
30 and 60 pitches, and a closer may
throw between 5 and 30 pitches. If a
pitcher has an unusually long inning,
meaning more than 25 pitches in an in-
ning, this may adversely affect the pitch-
er’s performance during the remainder of
that particular game. Furthermore, that
pitcher will probably have more soreness
on days 1 and 2 post-pitching because of
the increased demand on their throwing
arm. The starting pitcher’s program listed
in this article is an example of a collegiate
5-day rotation (Table 2). If a starting
pitcher has less or more than 5 days be-
tween starts, the program must be altered
to prepare the pitcher for his next start.
For descriptions and illustrations of the
Throwers’ 10 Program, see Wilk (23).
Exercises can be performed with rubber
tubing or dumbbells between 2 and 5 lbs.
For variations of training the shoulder
complex, see Jeran and Chetlin (12).
All conditioning for every pitcher is to be
performed on the field during practice.
This is most time efficient since often
times pitchers are standing around “shag-
ging” baseballs hit during batting prac-
tice. From a pitcher’s perspective, this is
not very productive. If the pitchers are di-
vided into 2 groups, one can condition
while the other shags. When group 1 is
finished conditioning, they go shag while
group 2 conditions. If modifications to
the conditioning program need to be
made, such as running inside, do so in a
gym, indoor track, or on a treadmill. Re-
sistance training can be performed early
in the morning before classes begin or
after practice. It is up to the head coach to
make that decision. It is the author’s
opinion that resistance training should be
performed in the morning before college
classes start because players are usually
tired and hungry after practice. This is
not conductive for an optimal resistance
training session. Estimated maximal
heart rate (HRmax) for conditioning is
determined by taking 220 minus the per-
son’s age. Coaches can control exercise in-
tensity while conditioning by having
players work out at various percentages of
their HRmax. Based on research not yet
published by this author, it is recom-
mended that pitcher’s hard and moderate
day intensities be between 70% and 85%
of age-predicted HRmax. The condition-
ing times for the 200, 100, 60, and 30
yard runs listed in this article correspond
to this heart-rate intensity range.
Relief Pitchers
The training program for middle-relief
and closing pitchers are variations of the
starting pitcher’s program. With the DI
collegiate schedule, games are usually
played on Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, and
Sunday. Therefore, the resistance train-
ing schedule for these pitchers should be
on Monday and Thursday. Which day is
more physically demanding on the
August 2007 Strength and Conditioning Journal
Table 4
Example of a Closing Pitcher’s Program
Monday (light) 1. Light intensity (50–65% HRmax) jump rope
(various jumps): 6 ×50
2. Ladder drills: various movements
3. Balance beam (optional)
4. Abdominal/low back routine
5. Scapula exercises: 2 ×10
Tuesday (game or off day) 1. Pitch
2. Throwers 10 rotator cuff program:1–2 ×10
3. Treadmill jog (light-to-moderate intensity:
a. 50–75% HRmax
4. Ice: 15–20 minutes (optional)
Wednesday (off day or
practice): hard
1. Speed endurance
a. 10 ×100 yd (15 sec with 45 sec rest)
2. Agility drills
a. Fetch & catch: 2 ×10
3. Lower body workout (hard)
a. Squats (core)
b. Romanian deadlift (core)
c. Pitcher ’s step-up
d. Lateral lunge
e. Calf raises
Thursday (moderate) 1. Low/moderate intensity plyometrics (optional)
2. Sprints
3. Medicine ball:Throwing
4. Throwers 10 rotator cuff program:2 ×15
5. Rice bucket routine: 2 ×30 sec
6. Upper body workout (hard)
a. 1-arm DB row (core)
b. Alternating DB bench press (core)
c. DB hammer curls
d. DB triceps extensions
Friday, Saturday,& Sunday (games): possibly pitch
(discuss with head and/or pitching coach)
DB = dumbbells.
pitchers is up to the strength coach.
Based on experience, Monday is more
demanding (hard), while Thursday is
lighter due to the long, 3-game weekend
series. It is imperative to make sure that
the players are recovered for the week-
end conference games, since opportuni-
ty for success in these games is vital to
the baseball coaching staff. Each of the 2
days is a full-body resistance training
program focusing primarily on the
multi-joint exercises. For the upper
body, multi-joint pulling exercises are
always performed before multi-joint
pushing exercises, since the muscles that
pull are predominantly the active mus-
cles during arm acceleration and decel-
eration (8). The largest amount of force
that the arm must overcome occurs ec-
centrically when the arm decelerates.
The muscles that decelerate the throw-
ing arm after ball release are the rotator
cuff muscles, latissimus dorsi, rhom-
boids, teres major, biceps, serratus ante-
rior, and posterior deltoid (8). So, more
emphasis is placed on pulling and rota-
tor cuff exercises since it is the muscles
listed above that are not only required to
throw, but are typically most sore on
days 1 or 2 after throwing. This also de-
emphasizes the overdevelopment of the
pectoralis major and anterior deltoids,
which, if too large, may impede or de-
crease looseness of the throwing shoul-
der, maximal external rotation of the
shoulder, and throwing velocity.
In addition to understanding how to
train pitchers, it is equally important
for the strength coach to communicate
and discuss with the head and/or
pitching coach what is the best plan of
attack for each pitcher. The middle-re-
lief and closing pitcher’s programs list-
ed in this article are examples of a col-
legiate program (Tables 3 and 4).
Remember that every pitcher’s situa-
tion is different. Thus, individual vari-
ations (intensity, duration, frequency,
and mode of exercise) to a pitcher’s
program must be modified to maintain
the pitcher’s strength/power and allow
time for recovery. Furthermore, the
pitcher will know that you are flexible
and looking out for his best interest.
This will develop the personal rela-
tionship that has trust and understand-
ing at the forefront.
Position Players
Like pitchers, the predominant energy
system for position players is the ATP-
PC system. Thus, the periodized in-sea-
son strength and conditioning program
78 August 2007 Strength and Conditioning Journal
Table 5
Example of a Daily Training Program Designed for a Collegiate Position Player
Monday ( hard) 1. Trunk Stability: Pillar bridges (2 ×30 sec)
a. Right side
b. Left side
c. Prone
2. Speed training (optional)
a. Accelerations: 4 ×30 yd (jog,stride, and sprint
10 yd each)
b. Starts:4 ×10 yd (focus on double-leg lateral
push with cross-over step)
c. Sprints: 4 ×30 yd (4 sec with 40-60–sec rest)
3. Medicine ball:Torso
4. Throwers 10 rotator cuff program:2 ×15
5. Full-body work-out (all are core exercises):Hard
a. Weight box jumps (compounded with
b. Squats
c. Romanian deadlift
d. 1-arm DB rows
e. Alternating DB bench press
Tuesday (game or off day)
Wednesday (off day or
practice): hard
1. Low/moderate intensity plyometrics (optional)
2. Agility drills (2× each)
a. Z-drill
b. 5-10-5 (pro agility)
c. N-drill
d. L-drill
3. Medicine ball: Whole body
4. Abdominal/low back routine
Thursday (moderate) 1. Trunk stability: Pillar bridges (optional)
2. Base Running (3×each)
a. Home plate to 1st base
b. 1st base to 3rd base
c. 2nd base to home plate
3. Medicine ball:Throwing
4. Scapula exercises: 2 ×10
5. Full-body work-out (all are core exercises):Light
a. Squats (compounded with box jumps)
b. Body weight box jumps
c. Glut/hamstring raises
d. Seated rows
ee. Alternating DB incline bench press
Friday, Saturday,& Sunday (games)
DB = dumbbells.
should be anaerobic. The in-season pro-
gram should be designed to maintain
the strength/power and speed gains
made during the off- and preseason as
well as having download weeks
throughout the season. For resistance
training, position players should train
on Monday and Thursday if the game
schedule is the same as mentioned earli-
er. As discussed previously, Monday is
harder and Thursday is lighter. Exercise
order and selection should be based on
what is most important for performance
on the field and what would decrease
the chances of injury while in the
weight room. Multi-joint exercises per-
formed explosively are vital to muscle
recruitment and maintenance of
strength/power. Remember to use the
4-week repeating microcycles described
earlier. The use of resistance training,
high-intensity, short-duration interval
sprinting, and low-to-moderate intensi-
ty plyometrics will improve the anaero-
bic energy systems (18). Again, like the
pitcher’s program, training must be
sport-specific and functional for each
player. The training objectives (main-
taining strength/power, assisting in the
recovery process, and reducing the
chances of injuries) remain the same for
position players (Table 5).
For position players, conditioning is
typically performed on the field imme-
diately after practice. It is scheduled at
this time to allow the strength coach to
transition from working with the pitch-
ers to the position players. Also, condi-
tioning of position players usually oc-
curs after practice because the head
baseball coach is usually focusing on the
different skills of the game (hitting,
fielding, defensive coverages, etc.) dur-
ing practice. If the head baseball coach
allows it, conditioning could be per-
formed during various parts of practice,
such as during batting practice. The base
running described above on Thursday
conditioning could be completed dur-
ing batting practice. Conditioning
should be based on anaerobic energy
systems and sport-specific running. As
stated previously, resistance training can
be scheduled before classes or after con-
ditioning. Again, the author would sug-
gest morning workouts for the reasons
mentioned previously.
The ultimate goals of an in-season pro-
gram are to keep the players healthy,
strong/powerful, and on the playing
field. This will occur if a strength coach
designs a program that uses exercises
that strengthen the entire body and are
sport-specific to baseball movements. In
addition to dealing with common in-
juries in baseball (e.g., subacromial im-
August 2007 Strength and Conditioning Journal
Table 6
Recommended In-Season Weight-Training Exercises
Quadriceps & gluteus
1-leg squat
Split squat
Pitcher’s step-up (leg raise with hip flexion)
Lateral lunge
V-Squat/leg press
Hamstrings Romanian deadlift
Glut/hamstring raise
Leg curls
Physio ball leg curls
Latissimus dorsi 1-arm DB row
Lat pulldown w/neutral grip (unilateral cables)
Seated row
Reverse grip pulldown
Wide grip pulldown (front)
Pectoralis major Alternating DB bench press
Alternating DB incline bench press
Physio ball DB bench press
Barbell bench press (modify if necessary)
Deltoids DB front raise
DB lateral raise
DB bent-over lateral raise
Biceps DB hammer curls
Reverse grip barbell or EZ-bar curls
Alternating DB curls
Triceps DB triceps extension
DB kickbacks
Triceps pushdown
Forearms & wrists Forearm flexion/extension
Wrist pronation/supination
Wrist ulnar/radial deviation
Rice bucket
DB = dumbbells.
pingement, bicipital tendonitis, and ro-
tator cuff tendonitis), the strength coach
needs to know that the muscles, ten-
dons, and ligaments of the shoulder cap-
sule are critical for the throwing motion
(12). Strength coaches should not in-
clude exercises that may be more harm-
ful to the player than helpful. If the
shoulder’s safety is jeopardized by per-
forming such exercises as barbell bench
press, dips, overhead press, or DB flies,
then it would be prudent of the strength
coach to either modify that exercise or
select a different exercise that trains the
same muscle group. All 4 exercises put
unnecessary stress on a player’s shoulder
capsule, which already experiences
enough stress from throwing (1). To
learn how to modify upper-body exer-
cises, see Tyson (21). Furthermore, let
players choose alternative exercises that
do not cause them further pain, specifi-
cally to the elbow or shoulder. This will
allow the player to believe that they are
part of the decision-making process of
their exercise program, and it will moti-
vate them to continue working hard for
the strength coach. Some examples of
recommended weight-training exercises
for in-season baseball training are found
in Table 6. Finally, it is the responsibility
of the strength coach to know safe,
sport-specific exercises that will main-
tain the player’s strength/power and re-
duce the chance of injuries throughout
the long baseball season.
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David Szymanski is an assistant profes-
sor and a volunteer assistant baseball
coach at Louisiana Tech University.
80 August 2007 Strength and Conditioning Journal
... This suggests that arousal and anxiety levels may impact the physiological demands of pitching. Furthermore, being that the bulk of competitions in professional baseball occur during the summer months, greater cardiorespiratory fitness may help players better accommodate the physiological challenges and delay the onset of fatigue when playing in hot/humid environments [5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13]. ...
... The reliance on research such as the current analysis ensures that training programs are evidence-based and effective. For specific examples of proposed conditioning programs for pitchers, further examination of published works are suggested [7,8,20,21]. ...
Full-text available
The purpose of this study is to provide descriptive and comparative information regarding the cardiorespiratory fitness of professional baseball pitchers. Twenty-four (n = 24) major league (ML) baseball pitchers (starters n = 14; relievers n = 10) over seven seasons (2007⁻2013) were evaluated. A modified Bruce protocol and the CardioCoach™ CO₂ metabolic analyzer were used to estimate VO2 max and anaerobic threshold (AT) at the beginning of each season. Performance data from each season was utilized to draw inference about pitching performance. One-way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was used to compare Starting (S) and Relief (R) pitchers above/below the group mean for VO2 max and AT. Pearson product moment correlations were also used to examine relationships between cardiorespiratory fitness and performance. Significant differences in performance were discovered between S pitchers above/below the overall group mean for VO2 max. (p ≤ 0.05) and for AT in Walks plus Hits per Inning Pitched (WHIP) (p ≤ 0.05) and Earned Run Average (ERA) (p ≤ 0.05). Significant relationships between VO2 max and Walks per 9 Innings (BB/9) (p ≤ 0.05), Home Runs per 9 innings (HR/9) (p ≤ 0.05), Wins (W) (p ≤ 0.05), Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) (p ≤ 0.01), Strikeouts (K) (p ≤ 0.01), Hits per 9 innings (H/9) (p ≤ 0.01), Strikeouts per 9 innings (K/9) (p ≤ 0.01), ERA (p ≤ 0.01), and WHIP (p ≤ 0.01). Low, but significant, correlations were discovered between AT and WHIP (p ≤ 0.05) and ERA (≤0.05). Conclusion: Higher aerobic capacity appears to be more influential for S than R pitchers. Strength and conditioning practitioners should ensure that pitchers, especially S pitchers at the ML level, perform sufficient and appropriate endurance training to support pitching performance.
... The main goal of in-season conditioning programs are to build and maintain strength, endurance, and performance kinematics on and off the playing field, while also keeping the athlete healthy and decreasing soreness post-performance (16). While most of the attention regarding sports performance has involved interventions regarding blood flow restriction (9,12) and therapeutic recovery for performance and recovery (10,20), little is known about sportspecific metrics. ...
Full-text available
International Journal of Exercise Science 12(6): 726-734, 2019. Traditionally, a baseball pitcher's in-season conditioning between starts has consisted of steady state exercise. Little to no research exists on the effects of interval training on pitching performance. The purpose of this study was to examine the difference between steady state exercise (SSE) and interval training (IT) on exercise and pitching performance in collegiate baseball pitchers following an 11-week program. A total of 13 collegiate baseball pitchers were randomly assigned to either the SSE or IT group and tested pre-and post-season on a one-mile run, 30-m sprint, pitching velocity, walks plus hits per innings pitched (WHIP), fatigue index, and a muscle soreness/readiness scale. Pitchers in the SSE group had better one-mile run times post-season than the interval training group (p=0.007), but no difference on 30-m sprint performance (p=0.15). No differences were observed for pitching velocity (p=0.25), WHIP (p=0.75), fatigue index (p=0.79), or muscle soreness (p=0.52). There appears to be no additive benefit on interval training, as opposed to traditional steady state exercise on pitching performance.
... When coupled with the inherent short duration and repetitive nature of pitching (18), strength and conditioning professionals should be sure to prescribe exercises that emphasize anaerobic conditioning when developing training programs for professional baseball starting pitchers. For example, potential exercises may include interval training, sprints, and other highintensity exercises that are commonly recommended and used to target a pitcher's anaerobic energy systems (i.e., ATP-PC and glycolytic pathways) (6,7,15,19,21,22). ...
Full-text available
The purpose of the current study was to characterize the in-game heart rate (HR) responses of baseball pitching. In-game HR was recorded from 16 professional baseball starting pitchers (mean ± SD, age = 22.1 ± 1.3 yrs; height = 187.9 ± 4.4 cm; weight = 90.5 ± 9.5 kg) for a total of 682 innings (home = 381, away = 301). All analyzed HR data were then normalized to each pitcher's age-predicted maximal HR (%HRmax). The group mean ± SD in-game %HRmax among all pitchers was 84.8% ± 3.9%, suggesting that baseball pitching is predominantly an anaerobic task. A split-plot mixed-model repeated measures analysis of variance identified a significant interaction effect between inning and game location (p = 0.042). Follow-up simple effects indicated that the in-game %HRmax was significantly different across innings, but only during home starts (p < 0.001). Specifically, pairwise analyses indicated that the in-game %HRmax during home starts were significantly (p < 0.05) higher in the 1 and 2 innings than all other innings. In addition, follow-up simple effects indicated that the in-game %HRmax was significantly (p = 0.017) higher during home starts than away starts in the 1 inning (87.3% ± 3.6% vs. 85.8% vs. 3.8%, respectively). Thus, it is possible that inning-dependent psychological factors may have contributed to the observed changes in-game physiological intensity across innings and that these factors are specific to game location. Consequently, strength and conditioning practitioners should prescribe high-intensity exercises when developing conditioning programs for professional baseball starting pitchers.
... Baseball is an anaerobic, power sport (2). Players need to perform the skills of hitting, throwing, and running explosively. ...
Full-text available
Purpose of Review Offseason training programs are crucial for the baseball athlete. Preparation for the competitive season should be carefully planned to allow long-term athletic success. The two goals of the offseason training program are to optimize performance and reduce injury risk. These goals can only be accomplished with an understanding of the unique physical demands of the sport, and how these demands relate to performance and injury. The purpose of this article is to review the unique demands of baseball training along with current strength and conditioning principles to optimize offseason training for the baseball athlete. Recent Findings Traditional strength and conditioning programs used in other sports may not maximize the qualities necessary for optimal baseball performance. Traditional strength and conditioning exercises, such as squat and deadlift, primarily train sagittal plane movement while frontal and transverse plane movements are likely equally as important for baseball players. Biomechanical studies have shown that trunk rotation power has the largest influence on throwing velocity in pitchers. Programs should also be designed to reduce injury risk for common injuries. The most common injuries in baseball include hamstring strains, throwing arm injuries, paralumbar muscle strains, hip adductor strains, and oblique muscle strains. Summary This review describes the typical periodization phases of the offseason and provides a sample program outlining an offseason program for a professional baseball player from September through February.
Full-text available
David J. Szymanski, MEd, CSCSDepartment of Health and Human PerformanceAuburn UniversityAuburn, AlabamaGregory A. Fredrick, CSCSInternational Performance InstituteBradenton, FloridaKeywords: baseball; conditioning; interval training; speedBASEBALL MOVEMENTS AREquick, ballistic, and powerful in allplanes of the body: frontal, sagittal,and transverse. They require aplayer to start, stop, and changedirection in an instant. Baseballperformance also requires the ele-ment of speed. When running tofirst base, players are expected tostep on the base in 4.0–4.4 sec-onds after hitting the ball in fairterritory (3). Additionally, they areexpected to be able to steal secondbase in 3.6 seconds or less, andrun from first to third base in 7.4seconds (3). Those teams that pos-sess speed have a distinct advan-tage both offensively and defen-sively. From an offensive standpoint,they create problems for the op-posing team because the defensemust get the ball to a base or intothe infield faster due to the speedof a player in the batter’s box orplayer(s) on the base path(s). De-fensively, a team can cover moreground and even makeup for mis-judgments of the baseball’s path.Those players who have speed are,at times, more highly sought afterin college and professional athlet-ics than those with average speedbecause they can move faster onthe field. Major League Baseballscouts are looking for speed be-cause of the advantages it pro-duces for their team. For all ofthese reasons, speed is a valuablecommodity. Thus, it is importantfor the strength and conditioningspecialist or baseball coach to de-sign an effective periodized base-ball-specific speed program thatwill enhance performance for posi-tion players.
As is the case with plays comprising a game plan or assets comprising a portfolio, a periodized training program is more than the sum of its parts. Indeed, short-yardage plays can set up long-yardage plays; high-risk investments can improve overall risk/return; and nonspecific training methods can enhance the effects of specific ones. The key is to establish a playbook of fundamentally sound tactics and then skillfully combine them into appropriate strategies. Although relatively simple plans may be effective for novices, more sophisticated training and recovery methods are applicable in intermediate or advanced situations. The practical challenge is to direct adaptation toward specific targets by prescribing a band-width of stimuli appropriate for the athlete's sport and developmental status.
“Bridging the Gap” is a continuing feature of the NSCA Journal Various topics are presented with companion articles addressing the physiological and/or research basis, as well as the practical applications. In this way, the NSCA Journal continues to bridge the gap between sports researchers and sports practitioners. See page 27 for the practical application of these concepts.
We have presented theoretical concepts for structuring the training of baseball players. Much of the force in throwing and hitting appears to be generated and transmitted through the lower body and trunk to the upper body. Upper body movements are extremely fast in throwing and also very fast when hitting. Common sense dictates that exercise prescriptions for baseball consider both movement and velocity specificity. We have suggested directions for future research that would help coaches and conditioning specialists to develop appropriate training programs for baseball players. We view this similar to Hillary beginning his quest to ascend the slopes of Mt. Everest. There's a mountain of data waiting to be collected. Meanwhile, to DeRenne and the handful of others who have investigated functional performance related aspects of the Grand Ol' Game, we heartily tip our baseball caps! ▲.
summary: The purpose of this paper is to identify exercise performance-related factors which may contribute to shoulder pain and dysfunction and to describe appropriate training strategies for promoting shoulder stability and enhanced function. The intent is not to help the reader diagnose and treat injuries or to prescribe therapeutic interventions. Strength and conditioning professionals should encourage injured clients to consult a physician, physical therapist, or other appropriate health care professional before starting a conditioning program. (C) 2005 National Strength and Conditioning Association