Specificity is one of the major underlying principles used when designing a periodized training program. Specificity is simply using exercises or drills that bear some similarity to the sport being trained for. The similarity could be specific actions, movement patterns, the speed of action, range of motion, or contraction type.
For example, athletes involved with sprinting will perform exercises (e.g., plyometrics) to enhance the stretch shortening cycle and increase maximal rate of force development. Other athletes performing explosive upper body movements (e.g. football lineman, tennis service) may incorporate bench throws or medicine ball exercises to develop power in the chest and arms.
Unfortunately when it comes to cardiovascular training many individuals will settle for jogging several miles a few days per week and consider themselves “in shape”. Cardiovascular conditioning should be treated just like other fitness components and also rely on the principles of specificity. A needs analysis of the particular sport or activity should be performed, however considering only the general metabolic characteristics are not enough. Specific positions within a sport will display differences, which range from minimal to drastic, depending on the sport. For example, differences in distance traveled during a game between soccer forwards and midfielders may be slight and require subtle modifications to a training program. On the other hand, defensive lineman and wide receivers of a football team will exhibit significantly different cardiovascular requirements and a general conditioning program for football would not maximize the needs for both positions. Therefore, a cardiovascular conditioning program should reflect the information gathered in a needs analysis and be varied according to positional needs.
Baseball can be classified as an anaerobic sport. Highly explosive actions (e.g., throwing, sprinting) are separated by long durations of rest. For example, pitchers will throw a ball every 30-45 seconds. The total movement lasts only 2-3 seconds, so the approximate work to rest ratio is 1:10-15. However, a detailed analysis of the three pitching positions (i.e., starter, middle, closers) reveals that there are many differences between them. Table 1 lists the specific work to rest ratios for each pitcher appearing in a typical game. With this information we see how unique the position of pitching is because there are distinct differences between starters, middle relievers, and closers. Starters will tend to rotate every 4-5 games, whereas middle men appear more frequently and closers receive the most action. The frequency of appearance is inversely related to the work performed per outing. These differences must be considered when designing a specific conditioning program for your pitching staff and should focus on maximizing anaerobic pathways.
|Table 1. Average Work and Rest for Pitchers.
|Pitches per inning
|Innings per outting
|Outtings per week
||every 4-5 days
|Work per pitch
|Work per inning
|Work per outting
||4 min 20 sec
||6 min 12 sec
||2 min 5 sec
|Rest between pitches
|Rest per inning
||6 min 20 sec
||4 min 46 sec
||3 min 36 sec
|Rest per outting
||39 min 15 sec
||18 min 19 sec
||3 min 36 sec
This is the first of a 2 part series that will outline a specific cardiovascular conditioning program for baseball pitchers. Part 1 will focus on the off-season, while part 2 will focus on the in-season. More specifically, the programs will encompass starters, middle relievers, and closers.
Outlined below is a 9-week preseason conditioning program. These are only general guidelines and every individual is different and should consult a sports performance professional for a program specifically designed for their particular needs. However, this information should help lay the foundation to specifically prepare a pitcher for action.
Program and Training Guidelines
- Intensity is for pole runs and sprints only.
- All continuous runs are to be completed at a comfortable pace.
- The 3 directions (i.e., day 3 in week 1) are 45 degrees to the left and right as well as straight ahead.
- Leg circuits are listed as work duration and rest duration (20 s: 40 s means perform the exercise for 20 sec and rest for 40 sec before moving on to the next exercise).
PROGRAM FOR STARTING PITCHERS
PROGRAM FOR MIDDLE PITCHERS
PROGRAM FOR CLOSING PITCHERS