I had the distinct pleasure of growing up as a baseball player in the snowy town of Park City. Over the years I faced many challenges in pursuit of my athletic dreams, most of which involved the excessive amount of snow piled up on the baseball field during our season. Needless to say, the weather would greatly limit my ability to practice and play outdoors, so at a young age I discovered the undeniable benefits of off-season workouts. With the help of a strength coach I was able to improve my strength, power, agility and speed, so that I could capitalize on my very limited time on an actual baseball field. After injuries de-railed my playing career in college I decided to focus my time and energy on academics, specifically exercise science and human performance. After graduating from the University of Utah with a degree in exercise science in 2008 I joined the team at Alpine Sports Medicine as a physical therapy aide, and continued to expand my knowledge of
strength and conditioning. I love working with developmental athletes, and this past winter I had a great opportunity to combine my love of baseball with my knowledge of strength and conditioning.
Throughout the course of this winter and spring I worked with the members of Park City High School’s baseball team as their strength and conditioning coach. We started the off-season workouts in December with a movement screen and analysis of each player, which gave us the information needed to develop an individualized program. After reviewing the results of the screenings, I came up with a set of goals, that included increasing hip mobility, core stability and power in each athlete, which would allow them to develop baseball specific skills more effectively. However, given the various age and developmental differences that occur within a group of teenaged athletes, this was no easy task.
I’ve never been a big fan of loading a teenager with heavy weights, mostly because they are still growing and I would rather emphasize proper technique at this point in their development. With this in mind, the majority of the exercises we performed were compound movements that utilized body weight and focused on completing entire range of motions with perfect technique. I designed the training program so that I would slowly increase the load added to each movement while decreasing the volume of sets and repetitions performed. This concept is crucial to safely and effectively progress an athlete through the multiple phases of a program (hypertrophy, strength, power and speed). To compliment the work we were doing in the weight room, I also had the players working on speed and agility multiple days a week. Baseball is a sport that consists of short bursts of very intense movements that are primarily reactive in nature, so it is crucial to not only work on pure foot speed, but speed as a function of reaction time. Our speed and agility drills were all designed around the athlete reacting to a stimulus, which would better represent game type situations (stealing bases, advancing on a passed ball, tracking balls in the field…)
At this point in the season, it’s safe to say that the training program was a success; The Miners are all noticeably bigger, stronger and faster than they were last season. They have shown significant improvement in every major category, including: home runs, doubles, stolen bases, batting average and slugging percentage. Defensively, the improvement in athleticism has allowed the boys to stay healthy and make plays that they were unable to make last season. Overall, I am very pleased with the work we did, and I can’t wait to continue with the next crop of up and coming players.