October 4, 2018

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Position Player Performance Project (P4)

From a research standpoint, there are a lot of fascinating studies coming out looking at everything about pitching. Thankfully, the new technologies that we have in the higher ranks of baseball are allowing strength and conditioning coaches to tap into the inner genetics of these freakish athletes on the bump. 

 

However, there is not nearly as much research on the hitter. At most of the performance training facilities on the island, there are zero programs to create monstrous hitters. Until NOW! 

 

The Position Player Performance Project (P4) is an all-inclusive performance program that allows the hitter to get their rips and reps in the cage and the gym. 

 

We want to create and polish out hitters to become exceptional in the necessary tools for hitting: strength, power, quickness/reactiveness, and hand-eye coordination. 

 

Strength

 

Research shows that the elite hitter does require a certain amount of upper body strength. The 1-RM Bench Press is the most popular strength test used for the upper body. However, does it correlate to bat speed? 

 

One study [1] found that the 1-RM Bench Press does not correlate to muscle power exertion in hitters. This is because the two movements involve two different movement velocities.

 

However, if you're a player who requires a good amount of upper body strength, then we should first attack that weakness before worrying about how fast your bat speed is. 

 

Not only has it been suggested that power hitters are superior in absolute strength, but these same hitters are able to exert this strength in a small window of time in relation to their bodyweight. 

 

Power 

 

Not only does the hitter need to have a strong lower half and upper body, but they need to display this strength in the least amount of time, otherwise known as "power" production. 

 

As you may have picked up on already, strength is a pre-requisite of power. If you want to become more powerful, you can probably kill two birds with one stone while increasing your relative strength numbers. 

 

One 12-week study [2] showed that the addition of medicine ball training alongside a strength program increased both rotational strength and rotational velocity. Therefore, power was also increased. 

 

At Infiniti Sports Performance, we get very creative with our exercise selection programming. Below is one of our most popular rotational power drills. 

 

 

 

Speed 

 

The main slogan for our Speed Academy is "Speed Kills", which is definitely true in all of sports. Becoming a threat on the base paths will make you an even more dangerous hitter. Not only because you can put damage to the ball and the pitcher's ERA, but you could put yourself into scoring opportunities! 

 

Within speed training, there are two different phases: acceleration and top-speed. As a baseball player, believe it or not, you are in the acceleration phase of sprinting 99% of the time and rarely ever reach the top-speed end. 

 

Not many coaches specifically train to reposition the body after a batted-ball. After all, the athlete must overcome a decelerated position to accelerate towards first base. 

 

 

 

However, it is important for a baseball player to have speed-endurance. This is relatable to stretching out those singles into extra base hits, and actually scoring safely from a scoring position! 

 

When training for absolute speed, it is important to take proper rest periods into account. For example, if we are training for base-stealing speed, and it takes us 4 seconds to complete the steal, then we should rest for at least 24 seconds (known as a 1:6 work-rest ratio). 

 

If we are getting specific with our speed-endurance, such as getting from first to third, then we could decrease the amount of rest time or increase the amount of work time. 

 

For speed training, we could focus on a few variables: stride frequency, stride length, 1st step mechanics, overload/underloaded or resisted/assisted training. 

 

As you can see, most of a defensive player's ability is based off of that first step. We believe it is important to utilize a "prep" step when performing these speed and agility drills because that is what the player will use in competition.  

 

Reactiveness

 

Research shows that baseball players, on average, have a much better "decision time" and reaction time in comparison to other athletes [3]. 

 

Not only are baseball players accustomed to having a quick reaction time to a stimulus, but they are also adept in withholding the response to a stimulus. In other words, this is known as having "strike zone recognition". 

 

Some research says that it is very difficult to truly decrease reaction time. However, the benefits of adding this practice into your training is that it is not taxing on the nervous system like the high-intensity lifts you are accustomed to. 

 

 

 

 

Hand-Eye Coordination 

 

Last but not least, we want to cover hand-eye coordination. When we perform any sort of vision training, we want our athletes to understand that every muscle in the body has fast-twitch fibers. Since there are small muscles surrounding our eyes, we can train those fast-twitch fibers too! 

 

As a baseball player, you use your near-far accommodation to become successful on the field. Whether it is in the box or on defense, the player must track the ball from a far distance to a near distance. 

 

 

 

 

Whether you are an infielder, outfielder, or catcher, it is important that you develop the necessary tools to become both an offensive and defensive threat to the opponent. 

 

This P4 program is dedicated towards developing and polishing the hitters change of direction ability on offense and defense, a base level of strength needed to hit the ball far and throw the ball harder, exceptional hand-eye coordination to look silky smooth and athletic, and rotational power to increase decision making time in the box. 

 

 

 

 

References 

1. Miyaguchi, K., and Demura, S. (2012). Relationship between upper-body strength and bat swing speed in high-school baseball players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 26(7), 1786-1791. 

2. Szymanski, D.J., Szymanski, J.M., Bradford, T.J., Schade, R.L., and Pascoe, D.D. (2007). Effects of twelve weeks of medicine ball training on high school baseball players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 21(3), 894-901. 

3. Kida, N., Oda, S., and Matsumura, M. (2005). Intensive baseball practice improves the Go/No-Go reaction time but not the simple reaction time. Cognitive Brain Research 22, 257-264. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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