Insight into Baseball Training

TAGS: coach, baseball, ferruggia, sport, westside, tate, athlete, training

By Dave Tate and Jason Ferruggia

I get bombarded with emails on a daily bases ranging from business issues, training questions, product opportunities, spam and a number of other issues. While I personally answer most of my emails there are times when I forward them onto people I feel can do a better job answering the questions than I could. This was the case with an email I received from Coach Blackwell (name has been changed). Coach Blackwell asked me a question in regards to training for baseball. Right away I knew this was a great question for Jason. This is one of Jason’s areas of expertise. Listed below is the email and Jason’s excellent answer.


I was searching the web for information on baseball training and came across your article. I agree with you and believe that we are still in the dinosaur age concerning training components for developing players.  Another question about baseball sanity is the use of the 60 yard dash as the measuring instrument of baseball speed.

I am a high school coach at a 3A high school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  We enjoy developing players and try to improve their skills during the off season through an off season training program.  Over the years we have tried to become more baseball specific in our intent. We have been blessed with talented players and we want to make sure that we are making them better and not doing anything to hurt them.

At present we are including in our program the following: Agilities, dynamic warm up including PNF stretch, Dynamic arm warm up and PNF exercises, Hurdle program for hip flexibility and plyometrics, speed program, quickness agility program with running ropes, weight training program with core lifts and auxiliary lifts with an emphasis on the back and the decelerators, abdominal  program, lunge program, push up program, Jobe's program for warm up, shoulder stabilization program, double Thera-tubing for spinal flexibility, core ball program, Med ball throwing program both forward and backwards , Prehab and Rehab Program for the decelerators, weighted ball throwing program against walls, and a warm down program and stretching program including PNF exercises.   The intent of our program came from being able to do things in the off season to enhance skill performance and also to keep players from being injured.  We are presently looking into kettlebells and or corebells programs.  Our players are traditionally weaker than we would like to them be. We are looking for training components that can add strength while at the same time adding or at least not taking away athleticism.

Could you please give me your professional advice on things we are including and not including?  We have about a two and half hour time frame to work in the off season: Monday- Friday.

Thanks for your input,
Coach Blackwell

From Jason

Do you guys feel all an athlete has to do is pure Westside training?

I will take this one since there has been some Powerlifting vs. Olympic lifting and other stuff like this over the past few weeks.

To answer your question straight up I would say YES and no.

How can I say this?

It is very easy because the training depends on the athlete being trained. What are their strengths and weaknesses? And what are the required physical components of their sport, and to what degree. For example, let’s say a football player has the following physical components.

1. Flexibility

2. Mobility

3. Agility

4. Absolute Strength

5. Dynamic Strength

6. Endurance

7. Anaerobic Endurance

8. Skill Development

9. Linear Speed

This is one hell of a lot for any athlete or coach to train. I would say you can't train all of them at the same time to their highest ability. There is not enough time in the day and the body will not be able to withstand the workload.

So what do we do?

You have to have a way to test and monitor these abilities with your athletes. Let’s say we were to use a 1-10 scale with 10 being the highest degree needed. To demonstrate, a power would need a 10 for absolute strength but maybe only a 3 for agility and a 1 for endurance. Now let's take the above football player and rank them based on this perceived scale. Now these are MY numbers, yours may be different if you have a different training philosophy.

1. Flexibility - 7

2. Mobility - 7

3. Agility - 9

4. Absolute Strength - 7

5. Dynamic Strength - 9

6. Endurance - 5

7. Anaerobic Endurance - 7

8. Skill Development - 10

9. Linear Speed - 6

What next?

Now we have to take our above numbers and look at the athletes we are training and see where they rank. This is what I have seen over the years for younger athletes (high school and lower):

1. Flexibility - Not an issue, just maintain

2. Mobility - Not an issue, just maintain

3. Agility - Somewhat of an issue, will be addressed on the field

4. Absolute Strength - A big issue

5. Dynamic Strength - Also an issue but not as big as Absolute

6. Endurance - Somewhat of an issue BUT gain this very fast in training. Think of how out of shape they are and then three weeks later they are ready to rock.

7. Anaerobic Endurance - This is an issue and is largely related to number 4

8. Skill Development - Always an issue. In my opinion this is not our job but we need to know what they are doing as it may related to the overall training effect.

9. Linear Speed - This is an issue based on two things; the ability to run and their strength.

*They also lack general conditioning: the ability to use all these components at the same time.

So what are we left with?

For the average high school kid I feel a program with a strong base in powerlifting is exactly what they need. Their biggest issue is strength. There will need to be some modifications (but not many) to fit in training for some of the other components but keep in mind if they are above my first ranking system then in my mind you are just wasting time training it.

The other side

This can also work the other way. If you have a kid that is a 10 in strength and you feel it only rates an 8 then back him off of it and bring up where they are low.

Other factors

You also need to have a way to know what the player’s genetic predisposition is. What do I mean by this? We are all coded one way or another and for some people they are not coded at all. Let's say you have an athlete who has a very strong genetic predisposition for endurance (say Lance Armstrong?). Regardless what type of training you do he is never going to be as strong as a Chuck Vogelpohl. While at the same time Chuck will never have the endurance of Lance. Now why is this important? Let's say these two guys were fighters. Chucks advantage would be to come out and use his strength to wear Lance out. The heavy pounding could make the difference and Chuck may win. Or, Lance could work around Chuck for the first few rounds and let Chuck’s strength work against him. Then when Chuck is worn out Lance would make his move. This is using your body and genetics to the best of your advantage. Now as coaches we could screw this up. Say I had Lance and was dead set on making him strong like Chuck. We trained like Chuck and did not train to keep his genetic advantage. Over time Lance would get stronger, actually strong as hell but he will never be as strong as Chuck because he is not coded for it. So if they now fought Chuck would kill him because all the heavy training has changed Lance’s physical ability to the point that he has completely lost his advantage


I am not sure this helped explain my answer but you will see what goes into my thought process of the programming of training. You need to have a basic philosophy to work from and then do the best you can from there. In training there is no right or wrong, only results. In training the science can mislead so it really is more an art, so trust the results.

If you are getting results then keep doing what you are doing. I have seen great results from many different training disciplines and I can tell you right now you can learn from them all. Leave you ego at the door and talk with those coaches who do not believe in what you do. You do not need to love them, like them or even do a thing they say but LISTEN.

Over the past week I have spoken to.

1. One huge kettle bell coach - only do bells

2. One main Olympic Lifting Coach

3. One hard core strength coach

4. One functional training specialist

5. One speed guy

Plus watched a ton of DVD’s from many other coaches.

The point is while I do not share the same philosophy as they do...

I learned something for EVERY one of them

Don't get lost in your own realism,

-Jason Ferruggia

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