This is Part 1 of a multi-part series about conditioning for baseball, for little leaguers:
- Part 1 – [You Are Here] – Don't Try Conditioning Little Leaguers Until You Read This First…
- Part 2 – Conditioning for Little Leaguers -Flexibility
- Part 3 – (COMING SOON)
This will be the start of a multi-part series about conditioning for baseball, for little leaguers.
In this post we’ll go over:
- The six properties of muscles,
- The properties of muscles that can be developed for baseball,
- The wrong conditioning, and
- Is there an order to develop the muscles?
Conditioning for baseball (and softball) is relatively new. At the end of the baseball season in 1982, in the Cleveland Indians training room, I had a discussion with Phil Seghi, the general manager. The training room consisted of a table for massage, a full body whirlpool and an ice maker.
Dr. Stanley: “The baseball players should be put on a strength and flexibility program“.
Phil Seghi: “Lou Boudreau never lifted a weight in his life“.
The 6 Properties of Muscles
1. Strength – tension developed by muscles. It requires the brain to send a signal to contract a higher percentage of muscle fibers.
2. Speed – the ability to develop tension quickly.
3. Endurance – the ability to contract muscles for a long period of time. This involves slow twitch fibers. In baseball, we should be thinking of increasing the ability to “do work” instead of endurance.
4. Flexibility – the ability to relax a muscle
5. Spring – the ability to store and release energy. This occurs in the connective tissue around the muscle, the fascia, and/or the tendons.
6. Coordination – the ability to contract muscles and relax muscles in a pattern that allows for the efficient movement.
Muscles can be trained for these properties individually and in some combination (ie. Speed-strength, Endurance-strength, Speed-endurance).
The Properties of Muscles that can be Developed for Baseball
All of the properties can be developed by specific exercises with the exception of reception of Nerve impulses.
However, as part of strength development, we need to enhance the transmission of nerve impulses by the brain.
The Wrong Conditioning
When my son was eight, I took him to a “natural” body building competition, thinking if nothing else, it might inspire him. He noticed that when the competitors walked on the stage there was something strange. He said:
“Dad, they walk like robots, is there something wrong with them?”
Do either of these look like they can play baseball?
Both of the above are well conditioned, but they are not conditioned for baseball.
The body builder is conditioned for endurance-strength, and the marathoner is conditioned for endurance.
Is There an Order for these Characteristics to be Developed?
Flexibility is the first property that needs to be developed. If a muscle is tight, it is difficult to get into proper positions to develop strength.
Next time we will discuss the latest science on Flexibility.
[Note from Joey: this is a timely post by Dr. Stanley. He mentioned that conditioning for baseball players is fairly new. Yes, we've come a long way since the Doc had his run in with Cleveland Indians GM Phil Seghi in 1982. BUT, the sport has NOT done a good job in the area of corrective exercise. Consider how bad Tommy John surgeries have gotten. Think of the stretching that is done in Yoga, as a critical form of corrective exercise. And how many guys are engaging in this practice on their own. One guy in particular? Jose Bautista.]
CLICK HERE for Part-2 to what coaches need to know about flexibility training for Little Leaguers…