Friday, April 1, 2011

Quick Thoughts on Distance Running for Baseball Players


I've noticed a very unfortunate trend amongst baseball coaches and that is:

Many of them have their players partake in distance running in-season (and in the off-season, too).
This is sad, as it's a clear indicator that the coach is either:

    A.  Simply misinformed.
    B.  Hasn't put forth the effort to look into more effective (and safe) training methodologies.  

I think pitchers, specifically, may be the most negatively affected by copious amounts of distance running, but these principles apply to the rest of position players, too.

I'm not going to go in-depth regarding this topic, but I'd like to pose a few questions which will hopefully at least get you thinking:
  1.  When do baseball players ever run more than 15-30 yards in a game-like situation?  Since this is rarely the case, why are we training them this way?
  2. Did you know that endurance training leads to a loss in strength and power output (due to fiber type transformations)?  So, are we TRYING to field a group of athletes that lacks strength and power, especially in a sport that requires a very high power output during a very short time window (think: swinging a bat, or throwing a ball, which takes less than 1 second to complete).
  3. Baseball pitchers may possess some of the most "imbalanced" body structures of any athlete (think: loss of throwing shoulder internal rotation, loss of lead leg hip internal rotation, loss of throwing arm elbow extension, etc.).  Why are we utilizing distance running as a training modality, during which no joint in the body passes through a substantial range of motion (and thus does nothing to address the mobility deficits occurring in pitchers)?
  4. Do you have any real justification to having your players partake in distance running for conditioning?  (Hint: If it's so that your players can improve their "endurance," then you've missed the mark entirely). 
  5. Did you know that endurance training has a negative impact on the stretch-shortening cycle?  (This is a bad thing if you're trying to improve your players' sprinting velocity).
  6. Again, when does any given play in baseball last longer than 5 seconds?  Do we understand how physiological adaptations take place in the body under a given training stimulus?
By no means is this a rant on baseball coaches.  It is just to encourage dissipation of the misinformation that seems to be plaguing the area when it comes to proper training for various athletes.

It can be very frustrating, as a strength coach, to see an athlete under your watch make vast improvements in strength, power output, movement quality, general preparedness for sport, etc. and then watch most of these positive adaptations go flying out the window once the respective sport coach has him/her for the season.

Don't become a dinosaur, do your research!


Post a Comment