THE MECHANICS AND THE KINETIC CHAIN
When you’re hitting or throwing a baseball you’re applying force into the ground and up through your whole kinetic chain while using the barrel of your bat or your arm as you’re launching tool. While hitting or throwing you are not just standing knock knee’d and flat footed while throwing your hands so lets all acknowledge the fact that hitting and throwing a baseball is an athletic full body movement.. A beautiful yet violent combination of rotational and linear force… I am not going to dive into the whole topic of hitting or pitching mechanics.. but as a former baseball player and current strength coach I will say your swing and velo start in the weight room.. Not just lifting weights and trying to get as jacked as possible.. but teaching your body how to work together as a unit.. A total kinetic chain, allowing the hips to work against the torso while hands and barrel work as a sling shot.
Pitching is very similar to this.. blocking the front side (with the front leg) while the rest of the body works as a perfectly tilted violent Merry Go Round toward the plate.
The ability to hurl a ball toward a target or drive the back hip/hands/barrel through a pitch with a firm front side is an extremely violent yet athletic movement similar to riding a bike full speed into a sidewalk… Think of the front wheel hitting the sidewalk (this is your front leg landing and locking out) while the rest of your body hurls over the handlebars (this is the rest of your momentum flying forward during a pitch or swing)
The first step in generating the tools to be successful and healthy during these movements is getting in the weight room, teaching your legs how to not only be strong.. but also produce force in a quicker manner. As strength coaches if we can make our baseball players more fast twitch (produce power quickly) we are one step closer to getting them where they want to go. It requires a healthy combination of speed, strength, and overall body awareness. We must not forget the physics behind the movements in america’s “past time” … POWER.. A combination of Strength x Speed. Yes we must have these guy (and girls) grind through heavy lifts such as squats and lunges but we must also program in our plyometrics (Lateral bounds, broad jumps, stability hops) that will translate to fast twitch movements on the field. So long story short we train the legs for strength, speed, and explosiveness…
Leading us right up the kinteic chain to THE CORE (which i classify as hips to neck)
The tough part about training the core for baseball is that we have to train in multiple planes (being that is is a rotational sport) We need to focus on exercises that involve core rotation for power (for example Med Ball Scoops) but we must also train the cores anti-rotators (i.e planks) to stabilize the spine and create torque in our swing.
The Upper Body Gets Tricky
This is where the confusion stems from when training baseball players.. YES you should train all the muscles of the upper body as well but you need to find a healthy balance between mobility and strength. Your lats (back) are essential for shoulder health. They also provide you with the ability to create torque when you load up your swing or reach back to unleash a fastball
Too much tightness however will inhibit your layback and your thoracic mobility (and therefore your velo) during your windup.. So balance between strength and mobility is key.
Long story short baseball is a game full of explosive movements, reaction times only possible through thousands of reps, and lots of mobility. Performing such violent movements put a lot of stress on the body.. which is why the best way to take care of your arm and the best way to stay in the game and have success is to master your body awareness and train your whole kinetic chain as a COMPLETE ATHLETE.