Power and Baseball
You need to generate a tremendous amount of power to throw hard and hit bombs. It’s simple. You can have the greatest looking swing and throwing mechanics in the world, but it is worthless if you don’t have the power and balance behind that swing or throwing motion.
My hardest throwing and hardest hitting athletes generate the greatest amount of lower body power. We measure this through the broad jump, vertical, and 10 yard sprint. The better these numbers relative to body weight, the more impressive the performance on the field. How do I know? Because we monitor as much as possible. We use a ton of objective feedback to make sure athletes are progressing. As a by-product of the monitoring, we have found correlations to specific abilities on the field.
Some real life statistics of our athletes and their throwing velocity:
Athlete A – Throws 102 mph and hits baseballs over 500 ft- 6’3” 240lbs – 1.56 10, 10’4” broad jump, 36 inch vert, 605 squat 635 Hexbar
Athlete B – Throws 94 mph and is in the top of San Diego for home runs. 6’4” 215lbs, 1.47 10, 10’6” broad jump, 35 inch vertical, 440 squat
Athlete C – Throws 87 mph and has consistent warning track power with occasional homeruns - 6’2” 180 lbs – 1.58 10, 8’8” broad jump, 27” vert, 280 lb squat, 345 hex bar
Athlete D – Throws 82 mph has occasional warning track power– 5’11” 170 lbs – 1.68 10, 8’0” broad jump, 24 inch vert, 245 lbs squat
Etc, etc, etc. These are not the outliers. Power is directily correlated to throwing velocity. Guys that come in throwing hard and hitting bombs see two things happen: they increase their strength numbers relative to body weight really fast and they begin to throw harder and hit further.
It Comes To Force Production!
The amount of force an athlete generates comes down to 2 things, the amount of mass (weight) moving and how fast an athlete is accelerating it. To improve your ability to generate force, move heavier weights faster. Crazy things happen when you get your athletes to do just this. If I take an athlete who can squat 200 lbs and progress him to 400 lbs, his force just doubled. At the same time, I guarantee his vertical, broad jump, sprint times, and change of direction also improved simply because he has the ability to generate more force.
Improving the acceleration side is the equation is almost as easy, “Move the bar faster!” So double a squat weight, and get your athlete to move the load faster. The attempt to move it faster just increased overall force production. The number of times that I’ve seen faster lifts by telling an athlete to “ACCELERATE THE BAR” or faster sprints by simply saying “RUN FASTER” would blow your mind.
I’ll admit that it’s not always that easy. In these instances we use bands, chains, and objective feedback on bar speed to show and quantify the feeling of acceleration.
Another simple way to increase force production is through exercises that require athletes to move fast. Broad Jumps, vertical jumps, horizontal jumps, and rotational jumps and throws work here. The kicker is to keep volume low, and intensity and as gauged by effort and speed, as high as possible. Quality is king, do not over program jumps and high velocity reps with high volume.
Highlight- Force increases power - Maximize the force you can generate, Work to generate it faster with bands chains and quality high power output plyos. Keep volume of high velocity reps low and clean.
Balance, Rotation, and Sagittal Stability
Sagittal stabilization improves balance and transfer of force through your body. Balance improves your center of gravity. Improved center of gravity improves your ability to rotate. Sagittal stabilization is your ability to maintain and control force in the sagittal plane of motion. Looking a little deeper into it, it’s your ability to control your spine. Think about an athlete who maintains a neutral spine through athletic movements. This athlete has the ability to transfer maximal force from their lower half to their upper half and vice versa.
An improved ability to control force though the sagittal plane allows for an athlete to maintain an ideal center of gravity. An ideal center of gravity is an even distribution over both feet. Imagine dropping a plumb line from your hips. Where does it fall? In front of you? Does it fall behind you? Hopefully right between your feet.
Center of Gravity
Where your center of gravity sits will dictate how you rotate. If your swing is unbalanced this is most likely why. I see athletes coming in all the time with their COG all over the place. They are often the knee first squatters with no hip hinge. Or they hinge into their front hip and show a knee first pattern in their back leg. Both often struggle to hit an inside pitch, they’re falling forward when they swing, they “don’t look balanced”, their coaches get frustrated with them. It’s a mess.
To see an athlete with a good center of gravity look at every single hitter in the MLB. I sadly haven’t seen all these guys squat, but I bet most of them initiate their squats in a similar way, at the hips. If they don’t, they are so talented that they can get away without it.
Improving on this is simple yet complicated.
1. Improve sagittal stabilization with breathing, rib, and pelvic positioning. This will help joint positioning through your torso and help set more ideal muscle synergies through your body.
2. Improve your center of gravity. Start with improved sagittal stabilization. When this is improving, improve movement through your hips. Let lower body movements start with a hip back first approach. Work this pattern into nearly everything you do in the gym. It should automatically carry over to hitting, pitching, and fielding.
When you can do these two things, your ability to rotate will be drastically improved, and the instant impact it has on hitting mechanics will blow your mind. TRUST ME ON THIS ONE! I see it every week in the gym.
Improving a baseball player inside the gym comes down to two things
1. Improve power output with high speed/high quality movement, and get stronger. Remember Force= Mass X Acceleration.
2. Improve sagittal stabilization. This will maximize transfer of force between your upper and lower body, it will improve your center of gravity, improve balance through your feet, and make you more efficient and rotating through your swing.