Nutrition for Baseball Performance

Nutrition for Baseball Players 

For baseball players, the end of the Fall season means it is time to start setting goals for the off-season. Whether it’s gaining or losing weight, increasing velocity, or just getting stronger, the Fall is the time to start making these changes. 

Nutrition often plays a large role in attaining your off-season goals. In the baseball world, nutrition is often overlooked, and not on purpose. It's just not always convenient to eat a well-balanced healthy diet with hectic sport and school schedules. Baseball players know that nutrition matters, yet have no idea what to do when it comes to nutrition.

I often see the struggles baseball players face every day when it comes to nutrition, and I have lived it myself as a former player and coach!

Why Nutrition Matters to Baseball Players

As a baseball player, you have the power to improve your performance through food. You must have plenty of the right foods to compete at your highest level. The stress you endure through sport and school increases your nutritional needs.

This is why Mike Reinold and I developed The Champion Baseball Nutrition for Performance eBook. This eBook will help guide you in making smart nutrition choices throughout your competitive years and set you up for a lifetime of healthy habits. 

As a former baseball player who has played at the collegiate and professional levels, nutrition was always something I personally struggled with. I never took it seriously in growing up, and never understood how much nutrition could impact my performance on the field. 

Champion Nutriton Buckets

This was what my day looked like when I was in high school. I would skip breakfast. Have junk food for lunch. Get home and microwave some pizza, nachos or hot pockets Have dinner and repeat. 

My body composition was obviously not the best, and my performance began to deteriorate. I had no idea what to do, how to eat, or what to eat. That carried on into showcases and camps. Then I had a college coach walk up to me while I was drinking mountain dew. This coach told me they liked my skill, they liked how I pitched in the game, but he was disappointed with my food decisions. He made it clear, they are recruiting me to come to their school and be there for 4 years on my own and making my own decisions. 

That was my wake-up call.

...But I Still Didn’t Know What to Eat or How to Eat! 

So, I did what most do. I went online and found some articles and began to make changes here and there. There was SO much information out there though. Most of it was very opinionated, or quick fix diets, or take a bunch of supplements. 

So, while I tried to make changes, I fell back into old habits as it was easy. Once I got to a higher level of baseball, I realized how serious everyone was at taking care of their bodies. We were lucky, we had a team nutritionist. Most do not. Our nutrition coach helped changed my eating habits, and begin to change my performance and recovery. I went from a bad body composition to a stronger and less injury-prone player. 

Once I got done playing, I got into baseball coaching and strength training. I began to see the same problems I faced as a growing athlete. Players knew that nutrition mattered, yet had no idea what to do when it came to nutrition. 

I wanted to make a difference and help baseball players navigate their nutrition. The Champion Baseball Nutrition for Performance Program helps address the problems we've seen in many baseball athletes. Nutrition is often overlooked, and not on purpose, it's just not always convenient to eat a well-balanced healthy diet.

The Champion Baseball Nutrition for Performance eBook 

The Champion Baseball Nutrition for Performance eBook contains science-backed information and studies written with young athletes, parents, and coaches in mind. The goal is to provide you with clear and easy to understand information. To educate you about nutrition and how it affects the body and your performance.

This eBook will provide you with the education to start making changes to improve your baseball performance. No matter what issues you might come across, we've got you covered!

This 89-page eBook will provide you with the education to start making changes to improve your baseball performance. No matter what issues you might come across, we've got you covered!

Champion Baseball Nutrition for Performance eBook iPad, iPhone copy

Here are some of the items you will learn about in The Champion Baseball Nutrition for Performance eBook:

  • Learn How to Eat With a Purpose
  • Sport Specific Needs of Baseball
  • How to Create a Well-Balanced Meal
  • Learn How Food Fuels Your Baseball Performance
  • Game-Day Nutrition Tips
  • Grocery Shopping List to Take With You
  • ...And so much more!

Special Savings For Baseball Rebellion Readers! 

Getting your nutrition dialed in is a very important step in enhancing your baseball performance, but when used in combination with a baseball-specific training program you'll see even better results, especially for the long term. 

Nutrition is extremely important for baseball players, not just in the off-season, but all year long. This is why Mike Reinold and I put together this eBook to help as many baseball players as possible. To celebrate the partnership with Baseball Rebellion, we are offering it for 10% this week only!

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Author Information

Nick Esposito Head Shot

 

Nick Esposito is a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and a Precision Nutrition Certified Coach at Champion Physical Therapy and Performance, located just outside of Boston Massachusetts. 

As a strength coach at Champion Physical Therapy and Performance, Nick oversees the Sports Performance and athlete training programs. He works with a variety of athletes from youth to professional, with an emphasis on baseball players ranging from youth, high school, NCAA, MiLB, and MLB. 

Nick also works closely with the Physical Therapy Staff and Mike Reinold at Champion Physical Therapy and Performance to help transition injured athletes, specifically baseball players, from physical therapy back into the gym and onto the field. 

For questions, you can reach Nick at nickesposito@champ.pt

 

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Guest Contributor - Nick Esposito of Esposito Strength Club

Nick is a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). Nick is currently a Strength Coach at Champion Physical Therapy and Performance with Mike Reinold and some of the brightest Strength Coaches and Physical Therapists within the Boston region & nationally. At Champion, we work with all types of clients. This includes adults, multi-sport athletes ranging from youth, high school, NCAA, MiLB, MLB, and NFL.

Learn more about Nick and Esposito Strength Club at https://espositostrengthclub.com

In this Blog Post, I am going to focus on the lead leg when throwing. While arm path and direction are definitely something to not ignore, the lead leg plays a very important role when throwing a baseball, especially pitching.

Why is the Front Leg So Important?

Think of the front leg as a means of transferring momentum as energy gets built up. This allows for a optimal transfer of energy into the upper body through the throwing process.

The top pitchers in baseball often show similar traits and mechanics. While they each have a unique way to their delivery, most tend to hit similar checkpoints, and one of these checkpoints is a great front leg brace.

Without the front leg bracing and assisting in that energy transfer, where could all the force go?

Shoulder?

Elbow?

Your back?

All that will depend on the athlete, and their individual body makeup and throwing biomechanics.

HOW CAN YOU WORK ON THAT LEAD FRONT LEG?

The following exercises are some of my “Go To’s” I have used with MLB, MiLB, NCAA, all the way down to youth levels!

1. OVERHEAD MED BALL TOSS

This is a great drill to work on your front leg and knee extending. Watch the videos below to see what not to do, and how to optimally perform the med ball drill with the help of a ramp or wedge. We normally perform 2-4 sets of 3-5 reps on each side.

2. STEP UP JUMPS

This is a great drill to work on your front leg power and force. Start on a box around 12-18 inches based on your height. For reference, the athlete in the video is 6’3″ using a 18″ box.

Drive off your front leg to explode as high as you can. Allow your trail leg to perform a knee drive.

This will help to optimize your timing and production.

I personally like to use the gFlight to measure the athlete's jump height. Here’s what we found out about this RHP…1. His left leg was measuring about 11-13″ each jump. 2. His right leg was measuring 7-9″ per jump.

So that lets us know there is an imbalance of power and force.

Getting his right leg caught up will only help his plant lead leg when throwing.

We normally perform 2-4 sets of 3-5 reps on each side.

3. FRONT FOOT ELEVATED LUNGE

This is a great drill to work on your front leg power and force.

Standing on an elevated plate or riser allows the athlete to get near parallel or slightly below parallel in the lunge pattern.

The more weight, the more force you must produce to perform the exercise. I typically program 3-5 sets of 4-8 reps on each leg.

4. DUMBBELL STEP UPS

This is a great drill to work on your front leg power and force. This is a very similar leg extension seen in throwers.

We are now adding a weighted component, which will increase strength and power, and should help with force development.

The more weight, the more force you must produce to perform the exercise. I typically program 3-5 sets of 4-8 reps on each leg.

Enjoyed this article? Check out more of Nick's content on https://espositostrengthclub.com

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Starting Strength Training for Baseball Players

Nick Esposito Head Shot

Nick Esposito | Champion Physical Therapy & Performance

I am a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). I currently work at Champion Physical Therapy and Performance with Mike Reinold and some of the brightest Strength Coaches and Physical Therapists within the Boston region & nationally.  At Champion, we work with all types of clients. This includes adults, multi-sport athletes ranging from youth, high school, NCAA, MiLB, MLB, and NFL.

I've been working with baseball players for a long time. Part of my goal is to make sure we are teaching youth and older baseball players, coaches, and parents how to start a strength training program.

I’ve worked with youth baseball players for over 10 years now, as a baseball coach and a strength coach. I have also been a speaker at an NSCA Seminar, where I spoke on “Training Today’s Youth Athletes.”

Within this article, I am going to breakdown some of the benefits, myths, and things to look out for when starting a strength training program for a baseball player.

Your strength program should focus on every aspect found within this article with the end goal helping you increase your throwing velocity, increase your bat speed, get faster and help you become a better baseball player! Because of this, baseball players need specific items within a program, especially in terms of core strength and arm care.

Should Baseball Players Strength Train?

Strength Training by far is one of the most misunderstood components for baseball players. There are many myths that are still used today by coaches and instructors. Yes, even college programs are stuck in “old” ways.

Common Myths:

  • Kids Shouldn't Lift
  • Growth Plate Issues
  • Weights will Make You Bulky
  • Just Need to Use Resistance Bands
  • You Should Wait till you are in College
  • Baseball players don't need to lift weights
  • Light Weight and Higher Reps

Yes, those are some concerns, but many of those myths have been disproven. A lot of the time, it comes down to the exercise selection and the program that is being performed.

Here are 3 Studies I'd Like to Highlight:

#1: Youth Resistance Training: Updated Position Statement Paper From The National Strength And Conditioning Association

“Despite outdated concerns regarding the safety or effectiveness of youth resistance training, scientific evidence and clinical impressions indicate that youth resistance training has the potential to offer observable health and fitness value to children and adolescents, provided that appropriate training guidelines are followed and qualified instruction is available. 

In addition to performance-related benefits, the effects of resistance training on selected health-related measures including bone health, body composition, and sports injury reduction should be recognized by teachers, coaches, parents, and health care providers. These health benefits can be safely obtained by most children and adolescents when prescribed age-appropriate resistance training guidelines”

Read the Study

#2: Strength Training in Children and Adolescents: Raising the Bar for Young Athletes?

“Children can improve strength by 30% to 50% after just 8 to 12 weeks of a well-designed strength training program. Youth need to continue to train at least two times per week to maintain strength. The case reports of injuries related to strength training, including epiphyseal plate fractures and lower back injuries, are primarily attributed to the misuse of equipment, inappropriate weight, improper technique, or lack of qualified adult supervision.

Youth—athletes and nonathletes alike—can successfully and safely improve their strength and overall health by participating in a well-supervised program. Trained fitness professionals play an essential role in ensuring proper technique, form, a progression of exercises, and safety in this age group.

Read the Study

#3: Resistance Training in Youth: Laying the Foundation for Injury Prevention and Physical Literacy

“Resistance training among these at-risk populations has been shown to reduce injury risk by up to 68% and improve sports performance and health measures, in addition to accelerating the development of physical literacy. Recent recommendations, position statements, and national initiatives advocate for the incorporation of resistance training with qualified instruction among these groups.

Resistance training in addition to free play and other structured physical activity training can serve as a protective means against injury and a positive catalyst for the development of physical literacy to offset the impact of diminishing physical activity and early sport specialization in today’s youth.”

Read the Study

When Should Baseball Players Start a Strength Program?

In a recent survey I posted on my Instagram and Twitter accounts, I asked a series of questions for Baseball Players, and their personal experience with their long term development. I had a tremendous response, including MLB players, Minor League players, players from all NCAA divisions, & high school athletes. Thank you to all who took the time and submitted their answers!

There were 2 important questions that I want to share with you...

Question #1

"Do you wish you started strength training at an earlier age to help your long term development?"

96% responded with a YES. 

Of the 4% who said no, all were under the age of 15 when they first started a lifting program.

Question #2

"What advice would you give to an athlete in high school about when to start strength training?"

98% of responded by saying they should have already started, ASAP, or prior to high school.

Here are some common reasons I’ve heard from athletes and parents for NOT starting a strength training program earlier:

  1. Not sure what exercises to do
  2. Worried about injury risk
  3. Not sure how many reps or sets to perform
  4. They aren’t “ready” for strength programs

Those are all valid reasons! Not to mention, often times when parents and coaches think strength training, the mind often goes towards heavy 'one rep' max lifting or “heavy” weight exercises within an unsupervised weight room. We’ve all seen it, and yes, that is NOT what I would recommend for someone starting off with strength training.

Within this article, I am going to help breakdown the components of a strength program and what baseball players should be doing in the gym to maximize their training.

What Makes a “Good” Strength Program for Baseball Players?

When it comes to strength training, you MUST master the basics. This is one of the items that is commonly skipped, and THE most important aspect needed. Let’s dig deeper into each aspect of what’s needed for baseball players.

The Warm-Up for Baseball Players

Baseball players and athletes often overlook the importance of their warm-up. This is not something to take lightly. Taking care of your body can lead you to better workouts, recovery, and better results.

Like all athletes, there are certain areas that can become "tight" and require some mobility and specific stretches. Because of this, I've worked with baseball players exclusively for the last four years. The commons areas that begin to impact performance are the shoulder, hips, adductors, and glutes.

Those areas are your big drivers and link your power from your lower to upper half when running, swinging, and throwing. The warm-up is the perfect time for Baseball Players to prime and prepare the body. These exercises are great to help regain range of motion, reset posture, and reacclimate your body after a long day of sitting in class, or on a bus, or in the car.

Reaction and Power for Baseball Players

Many players, parents, and coaches are looking for faster, explosive and more powerful baseball players.

This is the part of your workout where we will develop those skills needed by baseball players to help you hit the ball further, run faster, and develop more power from your lower half.

Sprinting, Speed and Agility Drills for Baseball Players

The exercises used for speed and agility training will improve your:

  • Acceleration
  • Deceleration
  • Change of Direction

This area of a program important to baseball players because baseball is a reaction sport. You are reacting to a ball being hit, pitch being thrown, and constantly adjusting your movement on a baseball field.

Remember, it’s not about “puking” or being out of breath… you want to master the basics of sprinting mechanics so you can perform at a high level on the field!

Plyometrics and Jumping Exercises for Baseball Players

Exercises like jumping and other plyometric movements are a fantastic option for baseball players if you wish to:

  • Increase explosive strength due to an improved rate of force development.
  • Increase reactive strength due to greater storage and re-utilization of elastic energy.
  • Improve your ability to transfer force through the joints and minimize energy leaks.

These are great for baseball players because explosive power is what separates a higher level player from the rest. Being able to land, absorb forces and produce more force will have a positive impact on the field.

Remember: Focus on your landings! Way to many sacrifice form so they can stack up the boxes as high as possible. We commonly start with Depth Lands, then box jumps to a 12” height for our youth athletes and older athletes work their way up as they develop and get stronger! [Check out my article How High Are You Actually Jumping for more on that.]

Med Ball Exercises for Baseball Players

Using medicine balls in your workout can teach you to link your lower body, core, and upper body power together into 1 powerful movement. Med Balls are beneficial because they:

  • Improve coordination in movements demanding a high rate of force development in all planes of motion (rotational power).
  • Raise the ability to control and decelerate rotational forces.
  • Improve kinetic linking through which helps the ability to generate and transfer force through the body.
  • Have some injury prevention qualities by the athlete learning to control rotation and deceleration.

After seeing some of those benefits, you can see why medicine balls are commonly seen in all sports performance programs but especially in baseball strength training.

Med Ball exercises are important even if you’ve never done movements like this before. Med Ball exercises slowly introduce you to drills that excite your nervous system, enhance coordination and contribute to a well-rounded training program. For med ball weights, we use anywhere from 2lb for throws and tosses to the wall and up to 8lb for slams to the ground.

Strength Training for Baseball Players

Strength training for baseball players is one of the most overlooked or under-utilized training opportunities in the game today. The importance of strength training should not be underestimated in the long-term development of your game. The following are a few of the benefits of strength training for baseball players:

  • Balance and Body Control
  • Improved range of motion
  • Stability
  • Transfer of Power
  • Injury Prevention
  • Overall Performance

Baseball utilizes the entire body as a whole through kinetic linking.  This means that almost every play, throw or swing uses muscles from each part of the body.  Most movements start in the legs, which creates a strong base for initiating your movements.

It is important for all parts of the body to be strong, but the core is the key to achieve good balance and explosive movements all over the baseball field. Baseball requires so many different abilities throughout the course of a game such as running for a deep fly ball, landing on one foot, or diving for a ground ball and having to jump up to throw to first.

We also focus on the Foundational Lifting Patterns. Programs should focus on building the Foundational Patterns to set up for future success.

Here’s what I commonly refer to as my “Foundational Lifting Patterns:

  1. Pushing (pushups, pressing motions, etc.)
  2. Pulling (rowing, and pulling motions, etc.)
  3. Hinge (Deadlift, Romanian Deadlifts, Hip Hinge, etc.)
  4. Squatting (Bodyweight Squat, Goblet Squat, Front Squat, etc.)
  5. Carry (Farmer Carry, Suitcase Carry, Goblet Carry, etc.)
  6. Single Leg (Split Squat, Step-Ups, etc.)
  7. Core (Plank, Anti-Rotation, Dead Bugs, etc.)
  8. Arm Care (Bands, DB Shoulder Exercises, etc.)

Finding the Right Strength Program for Baseball Players

At Champion, we've worked with hundreds of baseball players, from Little League to MLB All-Stars. We know what it takes to maximize your baseball performance.

Our programs are designed to enhance all aspects of athletic performance, including strength, power, mobility, speed, agility, and endurance. We don't build one-dimensional athletes. However, when it comes to baseball, you also can't just perform a generic program, you must understand the unique demands of the sport.

Most strength and conditioning programs are built around football, but baseball players have different needs. There are many common exercises we DON'T perform in baseball players, as well as additional exercises just for baseball players.

These programs have been designed by Champion Coach Nick Esposito and Physical Therapist Mike Reinold, who together have an extensive background working with elite baseball players. You'll follow a program based on the same ones we developed for our professional athletes.

Baseball Rebellion has partnered with Champion Baseball Performance to offer our readers 10% off select programs. Click on the link below to learn more about each of these 12-week programs and automatically save!

The links below automatically apply the discount for you. If you go to the Champion Baseball Website outside of these links, use promo code rebel10 to save 10% on your order.

Our 12-Week Advanced Baseball Performance program is perfect for High School and College baseball players that are ready to focus on enhancing baseball-specific quality. This program is designed to prepare you to get ready for your baseball season. Click below to learn more about the program and SAVE 10% on the program!

If you are just starting off, our 12-Week Youth Baseball Performance program is perfect for younger pre-high school players looking to get started in a sports performance program that is focused on enhancing baseball-specific quality. You'll start building the foundation for future performance enhancement and set yourself apart from your teammates. Click below to learn more and SAVE 10%!

Nick Esposito Head Shot

Nick Esposito | Champion Physical Therapy & Performance

I am a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). I currently work at Champion Physical Therapy and Performance with Mike Reinold and some of the brightest Strength Coaches and Physical Therapists within the Boston region & nationally.  At Champion, we work with all types of clients. This includes adults, multi-sport athletes ranging from youth, high school, NCAA, MiLB, MLB, and NFL.

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