3 Common Baseball Training Mistakes

The science of strength and conditioning is still within its infancy in comparison to other sciences such as chemistry and physics. Despite having been a part of athletic competition a long time ago, it is really only in the last 30 years or so that it has emerged as its own separate entity from skill development. Even in modern times within some countries, there still aren’t coaches who specialize in strength and conditioning alone with their international teams.

It’s funny, because in some ways the distinction between skill development and strength and conditioning has enlightened teams on how to properly train. But, in other cases, strength and conditioning coaches have tried to blend the two too closely and ended up creating one of the worst fads in training history, the functional movement fad.

Don’t get me wrong, what they are trying to do is admirable. But it has gotten to the point where the more unstable and silly you look, the more effective it must be. This violates some of the most important laws and principles that we know within sports science, but that’s such a big topic that I’m going to leave it for the subject of a future post.

In today’s blog, I want to discuss the top three most common mistakes I see baseball players making with their programming so that you have the knowledge moving forward to avoid them. Just as important as knowing what to do, is know what not to do. Once you see where most programs go wrong, you will be well on your way to seeing how you should be piecing your programming together to get the results you want to get out on the field.

#1: Training like a bodybuilder

Unfortunately, many people associate the act of weight training as bodybuilding. If you talk to the average person on the street, they’ll typically just flex their biceps in a bodybuilding pose if you ask them about weight lifting. That’s not to discredit bodybuilding, they are in large part how weightlifting got to where it is today. They were pumping iron over 100 years ago using whatever tools they had.

Having said that, their principles are very different than yours. It’s important to understand that just because you have big muscles, it doesn’t mean they can perform in the sport of baseball optimally. Building muscles that can perform should be your #1 priority in the gym. Baseball is not about being jacked, it’s about being a great baseball player. There is a reason some of the biggest guys in the league are always the slowest, a lot of them have relatively poor speed and conditioning.

Baseball specific training should encompass increasing your baseball performance, training like a bodybuilder doesn’t do this. Using some bodybuilding movements can, at times, but the overall philosophy of a baseball program is incredibly different than a bodybuilding plan.

To put it short, if you have a “chest day”, it’s probably time to rethink your programming.

#2: Training like a powerlifter

Although training like a powerlifter is superior to training like a bodybuilder in many ways for the sport of baseball, it’s still not much better and is still missing the point entirely. As you’ll come to learn throughout my blog posts, books, programs, and videos—strength and conditioning is much more complicated than your high school coach is making it out to be.

Always remember, we are in the gym weightlifting not just to lift more weight…but to become better baseball players.

If you can’t connect a movement, phase, or periodization scheme to how that’s going to make you a better baseball player, I would encourage you to hop on the programs and start getting sport specific results today.

Powerlifters have the squat, bench, and deadlift strength of an ox, but do you really think that will help you out on the diamond if you can only do it for one rep?

Baseball requires speed, strength, conditioning, agility, explosiveness, endurance, and the ability to maintain these qualities for hours at a time throughout a game. Whereas powerlifters need only maintain their sport specific skill for less than 5secs per lift.

Another major problem here is the overall volume of heavy lifting it takes to reach powerlifter-like strength. This takes a toll on your joints and opens you up for injury very often. Add this to your current baseball training regime and you have a recipe for an overtrained, underperforming athlete (who’s also probably injured).

Don’t get me wrong, powerlifting does have some carryover to baseball. Just like how some bodybuilding movements can too. In the case of powerlifting, enhancing your maximum strength will have carryover to those high intensity moments. There are sometimes in your periodization where powerlifting movements are definitely advantageous, but it should only surmise some of your programming and not all of it. Training only like a powerlifter will destroy your speed, endurance, and sport specific conditioning. Not to mention, I don’t think I need to point out that there’s a reason you have never seen a sprinting powerlifter.

#3: Doing “cardio”

I’m not saying cardio is bad, but I am saying that “cardio” is not a representation of sport-specific baseball conditioning. Way too often are athletes told by their coaches to just go do “cardio”, when the science of conditioning is wildly more complex than just going for a run outside until you get tired.

Blindly following this advice is probably the most common mistake I see out of all three of these that we’re talking about today. The best conditioning plan is the plan that meets the needs of the specific athlete, and also meets the needs of the specific sport. That’s a two-step process that no generic “cardio” prescription could ever offer you.

Think about practice.

At practice you will develop your skills, bring up the ones you suck at and maximize the skills you’re already best at. The most efficient way to improve your conditioning is to follow this exact same philosophy. This means:

  • Don’t just copy a pro baseball players workout routine
  • Don’t just copy a workout found in a magazine
  • Don’t just take a generic, umbrella statement from your coach as gospel

If he/she says, “do some cardio”…you still have more research to do.

Bring up your weaknesses, maintain your strengths. Don’t follow generic statements and make sure that what you’re doing can be translating to real baseball performance.

I hope this article was able to open your eyes to some of the most common mistakes found within baseball training. Use them as a compass to know where you should gravitate to, and where you shouldn’t.

To be a better baseball player, you need to train like one.  Check out our Baseball Training Programs to find a program to suit your needs.

About the author

Dan Garner

Dan Garner is the head strength coach and nutrition specialist at He has coached baseball players and other athletes at all levels from youth to MLB players. Garner holds many educational credentials and has been mentored by some of the top coaches in the world.

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