ABCA Clinic Recaps - Kevin Barr


Liam Carroll

Baseball-Specific Strength and Conditioning
Kevin Barr – Major League Strength and Conditioning Coordinator, Tampa Bay Rays

Kevin Barr is passionate about S&C for baseball and about sharing information. He runs a great website and is active on Twitter.  He provided some context for how S&C has changed over the years in professional baseball and outlined some of the things he’s implemented with the Rays.

Some of the information he provided really simplifies things – functional training for the sport really can be simple and you don’t need high-end facilities.  Other parts of his presentation got a little more in-depth scientifically, which was another reminder of how lucky we are at the BSUK Academy (and at GB Baseball) to have coach Alan Dean on staff.  It’s pretty cool to know that the kids who come to the Academy are not only doing the same skills and drills as they are in the Bigs but also the same S&C work.

Kevin provided a wealth of information in his clinic outline, much of which will make sense on its own – and I’m sure a visit to his website would expand on any points that you want more information on.

• Primary objectives of baseball training programmes are preventing injuries and enhancing athletic abilities.
• Baseball is a skill-specific game (hitting, throwing and catching).  Baseball skill performance improves when combined with training.
• Most baseball players strive to achieve muscle size and neglect movement patterns.  Baseball strength is not about size, it’s about usable strength for performing baseball movements.
• Baseball is a one-side dominant sport with one-side dominant rotation.  Traditional training programmes don’t provide bi-lateral movements required to unwind the body.

• Train multi-joint movements, not muscles.
• Train athletic movement skills.
• Train core strength before arm and leg strength.
• Train joint stability before joint flexibility.
• Train small muscles before big muscles.
• Focus on shoulder and forearm.
• Balance upper body training (push/pull).
• Avoid machines and emphasise free weights.
• Emphasise ground based movement (feet on ground).
• Emphasise multi-joint and multi-plane movements.
• Strengthen Glute/Hamstring Complex.
• Eliminate Olympic lifts (in-season for sure).

• Complete baseball skill work (hitting, fielding and throwing) before training.
• Emphasise warm-up before training and flexibility after.
• Emphasise good mechanics and techniques.
• Do not lift and run through pain (understand difference between fatigue and pain).

Throwing Arm Strength Training Precautions

• Substitute DB (dumbbell) for BB (barbell) pressing movements.
• Avoid movements requiring bar placement behind neck.
• Avoid overhead pressing movements.
• Avoid pec-deck and chest-flys.
• Avoid full-ROM (range of motion) pressing movements.
• Avoid heavy pulling exercises and shrugs.
• Avoid dips and upright rows.
• Avoid heavy bicep work.
• Avoid cable crossover movements.

• Avoid movements requiring bar placement behind neck.
• Avoid pec-deck and chest-flys.
• Avoid wide-grip curls.
• Avoid triceps skull crushers.
• Limit weighted bat work.
• Avoid dips and limit push-ups.

My Most Important Thing

For coaches: if you consider that you want to train movements not muscles or lifts, it becomes a lot easier to begin implementing basic S&C training into your practices.  And it’s most likely that you need to combine S&C into practice, rather than have the luxury of sending your players into the weight room after practice.  By training movements with body weight or easy to source equipment such as med-balls, you have yourself the beginnings of a Strength & Conditioning Programme.

For players: An MLB S&C coordinator says that if you’re serious about your baseball or softball then your S&C programme should centre on functional training, not chest and biceps.  If you decide that you’re working out to improve your game, then work out to improve your game!  You might be on a great programme for the beach but increasing the chance of injury and/or reducing your capacity for sport-specific performance and skill development.  "Look like Tarzan, swing like Jane" goes the saying.

Last Up: Dr. Tom Hanson

On Deck: Rocke Musgraves


tagged under: baseball, coaching, mlb, softball, strength & conditioning

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About Liam Carroll

Liam Carroll

Liam was a Regional Coach and then Development Coordinator for BaseballSoftballUK until May 2014. He returned to his hometown of London to work for BSUK in 2010 after stops in Somerset, Bristol, Cornwall, California and Nevada. Growing up playing in Britain, Liam made the move to America to study and play university baseball. After figuring out that his future would be brighter as a coach rather than player, he moved to the University of Nevada Las Vegas to finish his degree and coach college baseball. Since then he’s coached youth and adult teams on both sides of the atlantic and with the Great Britain Baseball National Teams.

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