What is “Functional Strength” for a diamond athlete? The definition for the general term “functional strength” is the strength that gets us through life and daily survival. So it’s physical strength relative to physical demands. With that said, functional strength for a diamond athlete is the strength needed to throw and hit a baseball/softball.
There is no doubt that strength is a necessity for all athletes. Baseball/softball players are considered “rotational athletes”. So it is important to concentrate on strength relative to these rotational functional movement patterns.
Bigger isn’t always better!
Not too often do you see professional pitchers who look like bodybuilders. Commonly they are tall, lanky, and have a tremendous amount of “fast twitch”. Point being, you can be the biggest, strongest person in the world, but it’s more important that you are functionally strong relative to the activity you are performing. Thus, being a world-class bodybuilder does not equate to throwing a baseball at a high velocity.
In the same sense, being physically strong as a hitter can have its benefits for producing power. However, an athlete must still have enough “fast twitch” to move his/her weight. While having the coordination and athletic ability to put the bat on the ball.
Even in base running functional strength can become a factor. Just because a player has big-strong legs doesn’t mean they are quick or fast. Quickness and speed play a much larger factor in getting down the base paths, getting back on a pick play, or getting a good jump on a steal or sac fly.
Practice like you play!
Being able to throw/hit with proper mechanics and training with “functional” exercises/drills are the optimal methods to maximize performance on the diamond. In other words, the most effective means for improving your capacity to throw a baseball are drills and exercises that are functional and similar to throwing a baseball. Obviously, the same applies to hitting a baseball. The bottom line is, functional training enhances an individual’s mechanical efficiency and sequencing relative to the activity. In baseball it correlates to throwing harder and hitting farther.
With Throw Smart, athletes get the most functional throwing program on the market. Which allows them to maximize velocity, power, endurance, and speed; all based on their individual needs. So whether an athlete is a pitcher, position player, or both, they will get a program tailored for their specific position(s) on the field. This helps insure each individual athlete’s program is functional. Not only for their deficiencies, but also to get them stronger at their position(s).
Pieces of the puzzle.
As a Throw Smart athlete, speed/agility work, mobility/flexibility work, and core work will go hand in hand with strength training. It’s important these are part of a functionally strong diamond athlete’s workout routine. Training these aspects with proper form and proper mechanics reduces the risk of sustaining an injury. Allowing the individual training to develop as an all-round athlete.
It is important to customize your training program to include additional work in the area(s) of greatest need. This facilitates total body balance and ensures healthy sustainable results. Workload management and recovery are essential when working to achieve this. Even more so when adding additional work to target specific parts of the body to achieve total body balance. By managing workloads properly, we can get the most out of an athlete without overworking them.
Allowing sufficient rest periods between workouts and exercises helps with recovery and the intensity of the next workout or exercise. This optimizes strength gain, especially in areas of weakness where strength is needed most. These aspects will play a huge roll in continued health and maximum gains. Whether in terms of velocity, power, or overall strength.
For more pieces of the puzzle check out our blog article on “joint integrity”.