I get asked a lot about which exercises are “safe” and which are not for young baseball players. It seems that baseball (for some reason) is becoming a testing ground for new and “interesting” exercises.
The internet is a big reason for this…too much access to too much information…both good and bad. And this information is put out there with no checks or balances, and in many cases, it is put out there by people that have no real experience or knowledge in physical training and conditioning.
I see a few main categories:
- Replicating Professional or College Training programs and using them with youth players.
- Using a system (i.e. Crossfit, Insanity, Etc…) that is easy to implement and gets results with a totally different population with baseball players
- Potpourri – Using totally random exercises, systems, etc… with NO thought about if it works or not, but doing it because it crushes kids and makes them work hard.
Some actual quotes I have heard from coaches:
** “It works for the University of Virginia, so it will work for our guys!” (players are 12 years old)
** “All of our baseball players are bench pressing, and power cleaning before the season starts!” Coaches using the EXACT program their football team is for their baseball players!
I could go on and on. I have been doing this for almost 25 years and in that time, I have heard just about everything. But, as I already said, lately it seems to be getting worse.
I have always contended that baseball players are a pretty special, athletic population and they need to be trained that way.
That doesn’t mean they can’t work hard. On the contrary, my baseball guys work as hard as any of my athletes….the difference? They train smart and do things that will help them and avoid things that may hurt them.
There are a lot of exercises that I feel baseball players should avoid, especially pitchers. And there are tons of other, safer ways to get the same results without risking injury. Just to mention a few right now (I will get into this in detail later)
- Barbell Bench Press
- Power or Hang Clean
- Overhead Pressing
- Overhead Olympic Lifts
So many of these exercises and others place tremendous stress on the shoulder and elbow joints!
I spent 20 years working as a Certified Athletic Trainer (the guy who took care of ALL of the injuries at the high school and organization) and in that time, I have seen tons of injuries.
Many of them in the weight room because of guys doing dumb things.
I have watched baseball players suffer through traumatic injuries that pretty much ended their career…all because they made a “mistake” in their off-season training. Doing dumb things that their coaches, dad, or friends had directed them to do. All preventable.
We all hate to see that happen. Its one thing to get hurt in the heat of the battle, but another to get injured because of something stupid and preventable....
As parents, its essential to do your homework and help your young player avoid these situations as best as you can.