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In Baseball and Softball: Don't Forget to Lift

Not all baseball and softball training is done on the field.

To borrow the old cliché that “championships are won in the offseason,” it’s up to players and coaches to come into the season fully prepared to win. And while players can put in as many hours as they want practicing the game at indoor facilities, they might benefit by shifting their focus a little towards the weight room.

“Some might not think they need to lift for baseball because it’s not a contact sport,” former Apponequet (Mass.) Regional High School assistant coach Matt Murray said. “Yeah, you don’t need to. But it’s going to help. Just because it’s not football where players are shoving and tackling, it doesn't mean there’s no point in lifting. I mean, you could say the same thing about basketball, except LeBron James is one of the most muscular players in the game and also among the best.”

During his tenure, Murray’s offseason duty was coordinating his team’s strength and conditioning program. While discussing benefits, Murray said power is the obvious one. But he also noted strengthening muscles can improve speed, agility and, in his mind most importantly, prevent injuries.

“If you make your entire body stronger, it’ll be tougher for anything to break it down,” he said. “Also, if your muscles are used to being strained a bit, so-to-speak, the recovery time should be quicker for young athletes, which is especially beneficial for pitchers.”

Coaches Toolkit by GameChanger

One reservation some of his players had about lifting was the fear of becoming “too big.” It might sound like a strange excuse, and Murray shut it down quick.

“See, that’s the thing,” he said. “People seem to forget weightlifting takes a lot of work and dedication. I’d say 99.99 percent of people who lift aren’t ‘too big.’ It’s a terrible excuse not to do it.”

When naming core lifts, Murray mentioned bench press, squats, and hang cleans. While he admits there are a wide variety of lifts and he thinks teams need to mix up what they do, deadlifts, overhead medicine ball slams, and dumbbell box jumps are among his favorites — because they all relate to one another.

“Anything explosive is great for baseball,” he said. “Just look at some of the more important aspects of the game: throwing, running and hitting. Those are all explosive motions. You might as well add some weight and build up those muscles in the weight room instead of overdoing it on the field.”

From GameChanger and Tom Joyce.

Baseball, Softball, Baseball Player Development, Softball Player Development, Baseball Tips & Drills, Softball Tips & Drills