Jun 30, 2017Gator Strength
Over the past decade, the University of Florida baseball program has established itself as one of the country’s elite. One of the reasons for the team’s success is an offseason strength and conditioning regimen that holds players to the highest standards and demands excellence from them each and every day.
An important component of the program is that I place more emphasis on the way exercises are performed than on which exercises the athletes do. This approach requires meticulous attention to detail in all movements. I supervise each athlete’s reps and am always available to give immediate feedback or corrections.
The athletes must understand that there is a “right” way and a “wrong” way to execute each exercise. To help them learn proper technique, we have a coach or older player demonstrate a lifting motion and then show the athletes video of themselves completing the same movements. The goal is to give them a clear mental picture of how every repetition should be performed, which will prevent them from developing bad movement patterns.
Additionally, I provide the athletes no more than three focus points for each lift. For example, with a back squat, I instruct them to focus on their head position, bar placement, and depth. Obviously, there are other possible coaching cues, but this gives the players enough detail to learn the lift correctly without overwhelming them.
My detail-oriented approach to strength training aids in the development of athletes’ overall focus, which has benefits on the field. Regardless of their position, baseball players must learn how to “lock in” mentally. When they are accustomed to doing this during lifts, it makes it easier and more natural to do during games.
Because my athletes are taught to hone in on the specifics of each lift, I make the overall structure of the workouts straightforward. This makes it easier to coach techniques and encourages constant effort from the first rep to the last. When weightroom sessions are complex and lengthy, it’s hard for even the most focused and hard-working athlete to be accountable for every element.
Regarding exercise selection, as long as the athletes are advancing in weight or skill without risking injury and balancing upper- and lower-body training, I don’t place much emphasis on what rep scheme or exercise they use. It does not matter to a muscle which exercise is being performed — the muscle will produce force to move the given resistance, regardless of the implement used.
In addition, the details of a specific exercise are often more important than the weight of the lift. Load is not the only measure of progress. A player’s physical development can be measured in a myriad of ways, whether it is increasing the efficiency of the movement pattern, getting one rep better, or increasing the weight used to complete the last set from week to week.
That being said, the general makeup of our offseason program is that athletes lift four days a week, and we condition on the fifth day. Rep and load progressions are set at my discretion. We do a lot of bodyweight, band, and dumbbell work, and we commonly include exercises such as dumbbell bench presses, rows, chin-ups, push-ups, pulldowns, squats, lunges, Romanian dead lifts, and hip lifts. The below sample workout provides a closer look:
- Hurdles – 1 x 6
- Ladders – 1 x 10
- Windmills – 1 x 10
- Pizza pies (arm care-rotator) – 1 x 10
- Two-way raise (arm care-rotator) – 1 x 20
- Dumbbell bench or floor press (pitchers) – 3 x 6
- Dumbbell bench press (position players) – 1 x 8, 1 x 6, 1 x 4
- Fat grip V-pulldown – 3 x 8
- Platform push-ups – 3 x 8
- TRX row – 3 x 8
- Biceps, triceps, forearm work – Coach’s discretion
- Bridging abs – 3 x 15 sec.
- Competition: Dumbbell holds for time