The importance of strength and conditioning

By Dr. Greg Shepard
Published: Fall 1997

We call baseball the last frontier of strength training among men's major team sports.  The first sport to catch on to the importance of weight training and to really learn the secret was Track and Field, specifically the throwers.  They learned "the secret" in the 1960's.  A decade later football teams began learning what to do until now almost all do "the secret" more or less correctly.

Next, baseball found the importance of strength and conditioning but this took nearly another decade.  Coaches thought that weight training would screw up your touch.  Amazingly, there are still a significant number of high school coaches who still feel this way.  Please, if this is your position, get our Basketball Video.  It will change your mind.  Don't picture your players doing curls like a bodybuilder.  Picture them Power Cleaning to develop powerful rebounding potential.

Baseball just started training with weights in mass in the 1990's but still most don't utilize the secret like they could.  The majority of great baseball players in high school also play football and so they lifted weights.  What happened?  Homeruns happened!  Therefore, in the 1990's all these players began to emerge with strong hips and legs which, of course, is where you get your hitting power.

Old time managers and coaches just scratch there head and come up with all kinds of reasons for the long ball hitters.  Every one, that is, except the real reason.  The players all know.  It is an amazing phenomenon.  Below is a table about the increase in homeruns in the minors:

                             1995 HR'S        1996 HR'S       1997 HR'S

AMER ASSOC.        1.46                    1.76                 1.82
INTERNATION.         1.31                    1.81                 1.75
PAC. COAST            1.34                    1.57                 1.94
EASTERN AA           1.33                    1.98                 2.12
SOUTHERN AA        1.40                    1.73                 1.73
TEXAS AA               1.30                     1.62                 1.72       
TOTALS                   1.35                     1.71                1.85

Last spring we had to laugh.  Davey Johnson, a great manager, remarked at Spring Training last March, "I can't believe these guys.  They're so big and fast.  They look like a bunch of football players."  Duh!  So why don't you really get with it and get every baseball player to strength train correctly.  If you are still not sure, get the baseball video.  It has the secret.  The same secret as used by the Track guys in the 1960's.  Do it now.  The sad thing is that thousands of high school players won't learn the real secret for another decade at least.  A truly amazing phenomenon.  As far as homeruns in the future?  Our statement remains the same as last year, "You ain't seen nothin' yet."