Baseball Training Tips: How Young Athletes Can Train to Prevent Injury
Young athletes need the importance of in-season training and understand that sticking with a training schedule throughout the year has advantages.
Periodization training, or training year-round in phases, can help athletes reach peak performance at the most important competition time of the year. This type of training can also help prevent injury.
For baseball players, periodization training starts in the post-season and continues throughout the season. It combines endurance training, exercising to increase muscle tone, strength training and power training, to be at peak physical performance for playoff time.
Here are tips for making the most of periodization training throughout the year:
- September through November
- In the off-season, the weight room should take precedence. This is the time of year an athlete should focus on hypertrophy training — or building muscle — and improving body composition.
- Athletes should set an eating schedule in the off-season if possible and be smart about running. This is the perfect time of year to get with a performance coach to fine-tune running and jumping mechanics. Building proper mechanics will lead to running faster, jumping higher and staying injury-free.
- In the off-season, strength becomes the focus, and athletes should see progress in their speed and agility. Examples of exercises to focus on in this training phase include squats, rows, chin-ups, lunges and bench presses. When using these exercises, baseball players should use a pull to push ratio — the number of pull exercises compared to the number of push exercises in a training session — of 3:1 minimum, with some athletes using a ratio of 4:1. This is the key to baseball players getting stronger while also staying healthy.
- December through February
- Field work and baseball-specific work should take precedence in the pre-season, and this is when athletes start to build a pre-game and pre-practice routine.
- The focus should be on strength, power and finding ways to apply weight room work to the field. Adding Olympic lifts, weighted plyometric exercises — like skipping, jumping rope, lunges and jump squats — or tools like bands or chains are great tools that can help athletes increase power.
- February through the end of the season
- This is the most important phase of training to ensure an athlete is at his or her best for playoff time. Athletes should continue to set goals and maintain consistency.
- Our strength and conditioning coaches recommend focusing on power and strength training during the season, doing strength exercises the furthest out from gameday and power moves closer to gameday to prevent playing through soreness. Examples of strength exercises include squats, lunges and push-ups; while power moves could include squat jumps, lateral jumps and Olympic lifts.
- Ideas for in-season exercises include floor hip thrusts, deadlifts, snatch/clean pulls, single-leg variations, dumbbell bench press, chin-up and row variations.
- July and August
- Post-season training should focus on endurance training and lead to hypertrophy — an increase in muscle cells leading to muscle growth.
- This is the time to focus on goal setting and getting healthy, and athletes should train at their full range of motion.
- Good exercises for this training phase are core exercises and moves that focus on flexibility and mobility — like lunges, squats and stretches.
Common injuries seen in baseball players include ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) injuries, caused by weak forearms, a weak upper back or limited hip mobility; rotator cuff or labrum injuries caused by a weak upper back, limited shoulder or hip mobility or throwing motion; and hamstring injuries.
Implementing a comprehensive training routine like one outlined here will help prevent common injuries and benefit an athlete’s overall health and fitness level. A conditioned athlete recovers quicker and typically lasts longer over the course of a season.
Want to learn more about how you can benefit from periodization training? Ochsner Performance Training can help. Visit https://performance.ochsner.org/ to book an appointment.