The off-season training for baseball players involves three key components.
For starters, I will quickly say that it’s important to take a little time away from the game when the season ends. Do something different, another activity, sport or hobby to give yourself a physical and mental break from a long season.
Take care of your body, allowing recovery and/or rehab from any injuries.
As an ex-MLB Athletic Trainer, I am going to give you my top three priorities for the baseball players during the off-season:
Let me start by saying, conditioning for baseball is a lot more than weight training.
My approach to conditioning could be summed up by the statement:
‘to develop power, from the ground up, using the entire body efficiently to maximize velocity of the bat or ball’
This concept, in technical terms is called kinetic sequencing. Your body is a kinetic chain. We’ll use hitting as an example. When you hit, you need strong legs to produce power off the ground (ground reaction force). You then turn your hips while your torso and shoulders remain closed. This results in separation. With proper separation, the next segment, your torso, accelerates at a higher velocity than your hips. Then your shoulders go, then your hands. Each segment goes faster than the segment below. This is how you create bat speed properly. The same concepts apply to throwing.
Having said that, your body has to be able to do these things (in the proper order), for this to work. This is where conditioning comes in to play. You must be in proper biomechanical balance. You must have proper mobility and stability throughout your body. To be sure of this, have a biomechanical and functional movement assessment done by a qualified practitioner such as a Physiotherapist or Athletic Therapist who is well versed in baseball assessments and conditioning principles. Using this assessment, a proper conditioning program can be designed to develop power within the kinetic sequencing of your body.
Another important component of the conditioning program is arm care. This program helps to protect the vulnerable areas of the elbow and shoulder. We offer in-person, at-home and virtual arm care programs for baseball players.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line 'ARM CARE' for more details!
Start the baseball off-season with a good round of aerobic training to develop a strong cardiovascular base for the long season ahead. If you choose to, you can do some sprinting while your focus is on aerobic training, then at 4-6 weeks before the season starts switch completely to sprinting. Sprinting is more sport-specific to baseball and should be your running focus pre-season and in-season.
Visual skills are extremely important for baseball players. Visual skills can and must be trained to allow optimal visual performance. This differs from visual acuity, for example, 20/20 vision - which is not trainable (you should have your acuity checked annually by your optometrist).
Important visual skills for baseball players include, but are not limited to, tracking (ability to follow a moving object with your eyes), convergence (ability to track an object moving towards you), accommodation (ability to change focus between near and distant objects), depth perception (ability to discern whether objects are closer or further away), peripheral vision (ability to see objects around you without turning your head).
We can use various training tools to improve visual skills. In order for a hitter to see a pitched ball, follow it’s path, determine the ball’s rotation and eventual location as it reaches the plate takes extremely well coordinated visual skills. Visual skills are also important for fielding your position well and good base running.
After your post-season rest period is over, a good off-season throwing program is needed. During the off-season, all throwing should be submaximal. You want to build up arm strength and maximal throwing breaks your arm down.
Submaximal long toss (at your peak in the off-season, should not be more than 90% max effort). Start with short distances early in the off-season (play catch). Make sure you keep an arc on the ball (no frozen ropes). Throwing should be comfortable but increase distance as off-season progresses. 4-6 weeks before the season starts you can add some harder throwing, on a line, but I still recommend submaximal effort (ie 90% max). Once you’re ready to start throwing harder, warm-up with long toss and then shorten down to the distance you make most throws from in a game, and throw harder from there.
By incorporating these three key principles for maximizing your baseball off-season will help you stay healthy and perform maximally next season!
Honsberger Physio+ offers a series of off-season baseball training programs to support your athletic goals, regardless of your playing level.
This article was written by Brent Andrews, Certified Athletic Trainer + Foot Specialist.
Brent worked for the Toronto Blue Jays, including the World Series Championship years of 1992 and 1993.
To learn more about our off-season baseball training programs please email email@example.com