When building baseball athletes to an elite level, you would be hard pressed to try and argue against the fact that movement quality is #1 most important factor.
How you move is the foundation of everything.
It doesn’t matter what your strength and power potentials are if your movement quality is so poor that your technique suffers. In many cases, movement quality will make an otherwise good athlete appear unathletic.
Put another way, you can be a naturally immobile person but work to fix those issues and become an elite athlete – but the reverse isn’t true, elite athletes never come in immobile packages.
Technique and skill development are just too important when you reach a certain level, strength and power are only ever going to get you so far. Even if you’re the monster on the team who’s the big hitter.
For these reasons, it’s imperative that baseball athletes work to enhance their mobility.
Doing this will enhance your strength, power, and athleticism – and not detract from it.
Flexibility, stability, and co-ordination make up your movement quality.
Can you move and control all ranges of motion in all your joints?
Then you have excellent movement quality.
Do you chronically suffer from movement quality issues in certain areas of your body? (e.g. hamstrings, hips, shoulders, etc.)
Then you would benefit from a baseball-specific approach to your mobility programming.
The idea for your movement quality is to get it, then keep it.
I’m Sure This Isn’t Your First Rodeo
Flexibility and mobility is a topic that I have personally covered on many occasions (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), that many other experts have covered on many occasions, and that has been the subject of literally thousands of research studies.
Many coaches claim they have “the” answer to your problems, but the truth is, on a very simple level, most of them are just regurgitating what they read in a textbook or in their certificate course and are not actually properly applying it to the baseball population.
Baseball players have certain issues in certain areas that only require a certain dose of movement in order to get the desired response.
The training principle of Specificity applies to mobility as well, meaning, there is a point of diminishing returns.
And in some areas of the body, plenty of baseball players don’t even need any work done, and yet coaches still seem to want to apply “their answer” to the baseball athletes.
That’s ego, that’s not knowledge.
What’s most important is that baseball athletes perform baseball-specific mobility routines consistently and progressively over a long period of time (sorry, shortcuts don’t exist here, I’m going to need you to pull out your old-school baseball work ethic).
If you don’t do this, you will probably end up immobile and frustrated.
If you do this, you will probably end up stronger, faster, more explosive, and less prone to injury.
No-brainer if you ask me.
Connecting the Dots
You see, the mobility game isn’t very different than anything else in strength and conditioning.
You need to understand the sport, understand the physiology behind the sport, and identify trends within the movements that may lead to enhanced performance or decreased performance.
For example, you probably sit a lot.
Yes, I’m excusing you of sitting down a lot, we all do. Most humans sit down for much more time per day then we are designed to.
In fact, if you look at the research, most developed countries spend over eight hours per day in a chair – and this has obvious negative consequences to movement quality.
Not just because you’re not learning/practicing new movement skills, but, you’re tightening your body up by staying in those positions as well which has obvious negative adaptations on your movement quality and/or athleticism.
Finding Trends in Movement
To use the above sitting example, if you were to break down the seated position in a simple manner, here’s what you would get:
- The hips are in constant flexion
- Glutes are completely turned off
- The thoracic spine is curved forward for hours on end
- The head and neck are pitched forward for hours on end
- The pecs and internal rotator cuffs are overly tight and pulled together
Rather than look at each office worker, truck driver, or article writer (dang it) individually, we can identify these trends in their positioning and apply specific mobility work to anyone looking to improve their movement quality who fit this criterion.
This could be a good start:
- Deep lunges with lateral rotation
- Bodyweight single leg hip thrusts
- Hip thrusts with cross body reaching
- Thoracic bridging
- Supine leg whips in both directions
- Deep squats with alternating reaches
And there you have it, a perfect mobility routine for anybody who is in a seated position for too long of a duration throughout their typical daily life.
Performing three rounds of that, three times per week, would create massive differences in an athlete’s movement quality in a baseball setting if they were seated for too long every day.
Why did I use a seated example?
Well, it’s probably applicable to pretty much everyone reading this.
But more importantly, I used it to articulate the main point that understanding movement dysfunctions and correcting them is going to give you a tremendous bang for your buck when it comes to improving your baseball performance.
If all of that stuff happens just when you’re seated…what happens when you play year-round?
Just like we can identify trends in all people who do a lot of sitting, there are very clear trends among all baseball players that we can work on to improve their mobility, and thus, their movement quality and overall baseball performance.
That’s what you need to understand from this day moving forward.
The importance of baseball mobility can never be understated because:
a) Baseball athletes are active year-round, which creates massive structural adaptations which can easily lead to future movement dysfunctions
b) Movement dysfunctions are not only going to reduce your performance on game day, they are also going to increase your risk of injury (which as a baseball player, didn’t need to be any higher!)
c) Movement quality is the #1 most important factor is sports. If you don’t have it, you will never be able to maximally express your skills when it matters most
Read my past articles I referenced above to learn both the “why” and the “how” behind baseball mobility.
Inside you will be provided an unbelievably comprehensive baseball mobility guide as well as several accompanying sample baseball mobility routines.
If you read and follow my instructions, I can guarantee that you will be a better baseball athlete for it.
So, no more skipping your warm ups, skipping your cool downs, or skipping your mobility sessions. It just might be the next big thing you do to in order to be that stand-out athlete this year.