How Major League Level Strength and Conditioning Benefits High School Baseball Players
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Very few high school baseball players become professionals. If high school baseball coaches aren’t there to produce MLB athletes, then what can they do to improve the players in ways that will impact them for the rest of their lives?
Ryan Faer, Arizona performance coordinator for the Cleveland Indians and a former high school baseball coach, thinks about it this way: “At the end of the day, coaches see these kids who become pre-med or go to law school or become enlisted. Doing the right things to help them develop as baseball players means when they don’t make it to the next level in their sport, they have something else.”
What does Faer recommend?
- Use the correct strength and conditioning movements. The same movements that Faer prescribes for a professional are recommended for youth/amateur, but ramp down difficulty and complexity for lower-level players. Ensure they have a solid squat. Work with their movement patterns unilaterally, such as using lunges in multiple plains. Develop a push with the upper body and a pull or row with the upper body. Beyond that, bracing and core stability are important. The specifics depend on the capabilities and experience of each athlete.
- Equipment can be pretty simple. A rack, barbells and plates are good starters and must-haves for your average athlete with some conditioning experience. Kettlebells are excellent pieces of equipment. Dumbbells can be a great option as well. Medicine balls work well for baseball players because they can be held or thrown.
- The biggest difference you see between high school and professional ball players is the way the professionals show up. Professionals eat right, are independent and focused on routine. They eat consistently and well and stay hydrated. They get plenty of sleep. If you can help high school players even achieve one of these, they’ll be more prepared for baseball as well as life. It can be something as little as asking them if they ate breakfast, switching their snack to something healthy instead of chips, and making sure they’re eating enough. Find the little things you can control and control them to the best of your ability. The pros tackle all of the controllables at once.
- Focus on the newest player in the weight room once you have everyone going on the fundamentals, and teach what you’re competent and comfortable teaching. The more tenured players should be able to take care of themselves.
- Continue strength and conditioning throughout the season. "It is hard to ramp back up,” said Faer. “Players will be risking residual soreness and it will be hard to adjust. I’m pretty firm in that I believe wins and losses are important. Coaches and kids care how they perform, but ultimately it is about development. Help the kids get stronger and more physically fit and don’t limit development to what can be done over the course of the four years.”