Why Does that Slow Guy Who Can't Jump Throw 90 MPH Off the Mound?

Baseball is a sport of lateral and rotational motions.

Think about it.

  • Pushing off a mound laterally and rotating in throwing

  • The lateral stride and rotation of hitting

  • A basestealing start

  • The way the body turns laterally in a crow-hop from the outfield.

How do we most commonly train for baseball? In a linear (or straight line) fashion.

Benching, squatting, cleans, pull ups, forward lunges, straight-line sprints/foul poles etc. While one would use all of these in some fashion of a balanced program, these movements are all missing a lateral and rotational component.

Often underutilized in a baseball strength and conditioning program are things like lateral lunges, rotational medball drills, and lateral speed/jumping drills, like skater jumps, for example.

Here's an interesting blog post that talks about a fascinating study on college baseball players. The researchers found that throwing velocity in baseball players only correlated with a lateral jump, and not with a linear jump or sprint. Eric Cressey, the author, founded Cressey Sports Performance, where they train around 100 professional baseball players each offseason.

Lesson: power is plane-specific. In other words, just because you're strong in one plane doesn't mean you're strong in another. This is how a pitcher can throw 90+ MPH even if he has a poor vertical jump and runs with a piano tied to his back.

It's also why Olympic lifting like cleans (linear) often leads to increases in vertical jumping (linear) but rarely in throwing velocity (lateral and rotational).

Research article from above blog post.

...so if you want to increase throwing velocity or hitting power, you need to start developing strength and power in the lateral and rotational planes.

Examples of frontal (lateral) and transverse (rotational) plane exercises

Kettlebell Goblet Lateral Lunge (lateral strength)

Kettlebell Slideboard Lateral Lunge (lateral strength)

Skater Jumps (lateral power)

Step-behind Medball Shotput (lateral and rotational power)

Want more information like this? Subscribe to my free newsletter below and you'll get plenty of it. Plus, just for signing up, I'll send you my free ebook, "10 Secrets Learned from Training over 100 Professional Baseball Athletes at Cressey Sports Performance."


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