Offseason Performance Strategies to Build a Stronger Baseball Body
Your performance for the upcoming year is built upon the decisions you make right now. One good offseason can change the direction of your entire life.
For pitchers, this juncture demands a careful consideration of their baseball performance program. At Premier Pitching Performance (PPP), we consider off-season training as the foundation for every player’s performance next season.
As deload phases for 2023 draw to a close, let’s take a look at how you can construct a solid base this off-season that will catapult your 2024 baseball season.
Off-Season Training Phases for Pitchers
The key to building a stronger baseball body is through making the most of certain phases of training throughout the year. A dedicated, consistent off-season performance training plan is a great place to begin this process. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, and for good reason, every pitcher has different goals and needs. At PPP, we use high-level, assessment-based programming to individualize training for every athlete.
A well-structured training plan is essential to maximize your workouts. Periodization is the process that involves breaking down your training program into phases, each with a specific focus.
For pitchers, a typical periodization during off-season might include:
- Hypertrophy Phase: Build muscle mass.
- Strength Phase: Increase overall strength.
- Power Phase: Enhance explosive power.
- Blend Phase: Account for increased throwing volume
- Maintenance Phase: Sustain your gains through the season.
Performance Training During the Off-season
The off-season can range from 12-24 weeks, depending on the athlete. During that time, it’s important to address performance outside of baseball-specific technique. This means concentrating on weight room strength and conditioning along with mobility to improve your overall power and body mechanics. Here are few priorities to include in your performance plan:
1. Compound Movements
Compound exercises engage multiple muscle groups, necessary in the demands of baseball. Incorporate exercises like squats, deadlifts, bench presses and pull-ups to build functional strength. These movements can help you generate power and maintain stability during games.
2. Core Stability
A strong core is your secret weapon on the baseball field. It aids in generating rotational power, maintaining posture and preventing injuries. Functional Core exercises such as bear crawls, dead bugs and medicine ball work should be integral to your training program.
3. Rotator Cuff Health
Baseball players are particularly prone to shoulder injuries. To maintain shoulder health, include a focus on rotator cuff exercises in your routine. Internal and external rotation exercises, as well as scapular movements, can help you develop the necessary stability in your shoulder joint.
Pitching and hitting both require excellent balance and single-leg stability. Incorporate bilateral exercises like lunges, step-ups and Bulgarian split squats to strengthen the lower body and improve your hip stability.
Maintaining proper joint mobility is crucial to preventing injuries and optimizing your performance. A regular mobility routine, including soft tissue work and dynamic mobilization of all your joints can help you maintain performance and keep you on the field.
Strength & Conditioning for Pitchers
The majority of your offseason training should primarily focus on building a strong base for next season. Because spring and summer throwing workloads for baseball players are extremely heavy, it could lead to a decrease in range of motion and strength. This is the best time of year, when throwing volume is lowest, for pitchers to address strength and stability needs to improve performance for the upcoming season.
Therefore, after a recovery phase early in the off-season, you can turn your attention to the weight room. Here are a few exercises our in-house athletes are doing at our gym in Wentzville MO as part of their programming:
Upper Body Workout for Pitchers
- Yoga Push Up
- Split Stance Cable Pull
- Split Stance Landmine Press
- Pizza Press
Lower Body Workout for Pitchers
- Band Resisted Speed Squat
- Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift
- Dumbbell Step Up
Typical Weight Room Performance Program for Pitchers
Along with exercises, our PPP performance programs will also track sets, reps, tempo and weight used to help you stay consistent throughout the off-season. You will want to track your sets, reps, and weights to see the progress you are making towards your development goals.
While the others are pretty straightforward, tempo may be a new concept for some pitchers. It refers to the specific timing and rhythm used during different phases of a repetition. Tempo can be described in three phases:
- Eccentric (the lowering or lengthening phase)
- Isometric (a momentary pause in the middle)
- Concentric (the lifting or shortening phase)
Tempo controls the speed of exercise execution and has a significant impact on factors like muscle engagement, time under tension and training intensity. Different tempo variations can achieve specific training objectives, be it muscle growth, strength, endurance or power, depending on your desired outcome.
Below is an example of a couple of exercises along with a tracking log from our FREE 16 Week Off-Season Performance Guide
Essential Tools You Need to Dominate the Off-Season
Mini Rebounder: A portable trampoline, the mini rebounder is an invaluable tool for off-season training. It serves multiple purposes, such as aiding in recovery by promoting circulation and reducing muscle soreness. Additionally, it's ideal for force acceptance exercises, helping athletes develop the ability to absorb and transfer power efficiently. For throwing athletes, especially pitchers, it plays a crucial role in enhancing shoulder stability, a key component in maintaining health and energy transfer through the kinematic sequence during each pitch.
Wrist Weights: Wrist weights are versatile accessories for off-season training. These adjustable weights attach comfortably to your wrists, allowing players to increase the resistance of various exercises. They can be employed to build forearm and wrist strength, vital for controlling and delivering the ball efficiently and effectively. Wrist weights are especially beneficial for baseball pitchers as they help recreate a throwing motion without loading the wrist or forearm.
Plyo Balls: Plyo balls are a critical tool for athletes looking to optimize their off-season training. These small, weighted balls are excellent tools for improving explosive power, agility and overall athleticism. They are frequently used in pre-throw, plyometric exercises that focus on enhancing dynamic stability and speed. Plyo balls are highly effective in helping players increase their throwing velocity, as they can help promote fast-twitch muscle development and arm layback. Incorporating plyo balls into off-season workouts can lead to improved throwing performance and arm health if implemented properly.
Get all the equipment you need this off-season with PPP’s Remote Starter Package. Includes 1 wrist weight set, 1 set of plyo training balls, 1 mini rebounder and 1 backpack.