“Conditioning” for baseball position players

Posted: August 19, 2012 in Baseball

When most of us hear the word “conditioning”, we  think of either long distance running or repeated sprints with extremely short rest breaks. After all, if you aren’t gasping for air then what’s the point in doing it, right? In some sports this might be the proper conditioning. In a basketball game, for instance, there will be circumstances where there are 3 or 4 fast-breaks in row. Repeated sprints are very sports specific and necessary. It is common for you to sprint, stop, and have to sprint again with little to no rest.

How many times does this happen in a baseball game? If you want to play devil’s advocate you could say in a run down (or pickle) which would be accurate. The natural response here is how many run downs happen in a season and the answer is very few. So why train an athlete for something that might happen twice in a season?

Baseball is all about being explosive, followed by a rest period. Would’t it make the most sense to train like this then?

Try to get the old school definition of conditioning out of your head and replace it with the idea of being conditioned within the energy system (ATP-PC, Glycolytic, Aerobic) used primarily in the sport. For baseball, it would be the ATP-PC system which is used for short burst of energy of up to 10-15 seconds.

For a professional baseball game, the average time between pitches is 20 seconds. That means that after a sprint, swing, or pitch, the athlete will have at least 20 seconds of rest before another explosive movement occurs. And yet these athletes are “conditioned” by running 30 yards at maybe 75% of their max speed, line back up, and repeat.

I would go as far as to say that conditioning for position players isn’t an effective use of time. I would much rather spend the time working on sprint technique, crossover starts, and agility (this is assuming the athlete is in good general physical shape and not a total slob).

In a team setting it is much harder to work on an individual’s sprinting technique and conditioning (new definition) might be the best alternative. By implementing a work to rest ratio of 1:3 or 1:4, the athlete should be able to come close to full recovery. This will allow every sprint to be close to 100% of their top speed as opposed to just running not to pass out.

Train fast to be fast. Train slow if you want to be slow. Give your “conditioning” program some thought before implementing it instead of just regurgitating the same drills your coach put you through.

The distance aspect and pitchers conditioning will be addressed in the next post.

What kind of drills or conditioning principles do you like when working with baseball position players?





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