No other sport is like baseball and softball when comes to the need for explosive athleticism. Players must go from 0 to 100 without much notice. Paradoxically, no other sport provides a worse environment for training the requisite athleticism for peak performance and lasting health within the sport.
Fast-paced, flowing sports like basketball and soccer are sports to enjoy and at the same time receive a healthy dose of strength and coordination training. That’s part of the reason we strongly advise our baseball players to play more sports than just their favorite game, even if it is just recreationally.
Kettlebells are the perfect tool for baseball players as it is unparalleled in the world of resistance-training for quickly developing the kind of explosiveness baseball needs.
It doesn’t have to get complicated either. The basic signature move of the kettlebell protocol, the swing, is loaded with transferable benefits for baseball players.
Five Benefits Baseball Players Receive from Kettlebell Swings
- The Glute-Hip System is Constantly Challenged by KB Swing
I just attended a seminar by Cal Dietz, one of the world’s top minds on training top athletes, and he said, “High-functioning athleticism is generated from the glutes. Hips can’t be fully expressed if the glutes are not firing properly.” Bam! Every baseball and softball player knows this but few receive the proper training to experience peak performance that come from explosive glute-hip action.
Unfortunately, our culture destroys healthy glutes and hips by promoting sitting for hours a day. The average American spends 10-13 hours a day sitting (PR Newswire 07/17/2013).
The average high school student spends 60% of their waking hours in sedentary activities (American Journal of Epidemiology 2008, April 1, 167). That’s about 9-10 hours per day on their butts.
Weak Glutes-Hips = Compensation = Dysfunction = Injury = Loss of Peak Performance = No fun!
- KB Swings Train Toes, Feet, and Legs to Put Force into the Ground
All athleticism for ground-based sports requires a Ground Reaction Force. The ballistic nature of the kettlebell swing will toss one around if he or she is not anchored to the floor with strong toes and feet, especially the big toe.
KB practitioners get immediate feedback from the bell and learn to efficiently ground themselves and put force into the ground that can be delivered into the ball when throwing or hitting.
Toes, feet, ankles, shin-calfs, and knees all get strengthened. This aids the growth in greater athleticism from the foundation upward as there is a strong connection between strength and coordination (Strength Training and Coordination: An Integrative Approach, Frans Bosch, 2015, 54-55).
Great baseball players need to put force in the ground for throwing and hitting with great efficiency.
- Arm Health via Deceleration Training
The kettlebell swing strengthens the muscles on the back of the shoulder via an eccentric challenge when the bell goes between the legs. Those posterior shoulder muscles are the ones that bear the brunt of decelerating the arm after release. If these muscles are not sufficiently strong, two things can happen.
First, the body probably won’t let the accelerators perform at peak levels. The body knows that putting the pedal to the floor is going to lead to harm if the brakes are no good. We will throw slower than desired.
Secondly, the body may go into compensation mode and recruit other muscles and soft tissue that were not intended for the purpose of deceleration. Compensation leads to a dysfunctional movement pattern = less efficiency = more wear and tear = injury, especially for those of us mortals with ordinary DNA.
- Arm Health via Grip Training
This is hugely important…Strong Grip = Strong Healthy Shoulders! There are studies that show correlation between strong grip and muscle activity in the rotator-cuffs.
That means, train the grip and you are potentially benefiting the shoulders via a neurological connection through propriospinal connections. Simply put, challenging the grip automatically effects shoulder functioning.
This magic is not taught in the traditional baseball world. The KB trains the grip every time you pick it up, especially during the ballistic kettle bell swing!
The muscles, tendons, and ligaments from finger tip to elbow get challenged like you’re hanging from a ledge over a canyon! You can always tell if you’ve met a dedicated KB athlete because he or she has “working-man and working-woman hands” with the calluses to prove it. That is direct transference, my friends.
- Core Training
The core is not just pretty abs. It consists of everything between the glutes and the upper torso, especially the small stabilizer muscles that can’t be seen from the outside.
This body segment is critical for baseball players as they try to transfer force from the ground to the arms. A weak core means poor transference and therefore leakage of energy.
When taught by a properly trained instructor with HKC and RKC credentials, the kettle bell swing is a tremendous core strengthener. In fact, one can’t execute a swing with proper form until the core is sufficiently strong and stable.
By the way, don’t waste time with crunches and sit-ups. Those moves are not for sport-performance, only bikini models.
If you would like to learn more about how the kettlebell can help baseball, softball, and all other athletes develop explosive power, remain healthy, and become the best they can be, please contact us.
Presently we have some of the top sprinters in Northern Virginia training here. Explosiveness cuts across all sports.
Owner, Dynamic Sport Performance
Director of Baseball