Someone asked me today if I thought Eric Cressey was on the money with his set-up between starts. I can recall in 2007 when was at the same facility, Eric was getting started with Baseball that he was a good fit for the sport. Now a few years later he has made Baseball his forte and he is very focused on on the overhead athlete. I reviewed his article and found much of it spot on with research but the question I have is how do we know what is optimal? I don’t have an answer but I actually did the 45 minute run with a starting pitchers in my life when I was interning with the Rays in 1999. Here are my suggestions in improving the the pitching rotation schedule with monitoring and measurement, I have no experience designing programs for the MLB but I can only ask a few of the obvious questions. I would love to see all pro baseball team setups in a comparison chart some day.
Eric Cressey shared a lot of research on endurance training and how he tries to avoid the negative effects of doing too much endurance type running. I agree with his summary of to tone down the long distance running, but what are the alternatives? Some coaches love running, some avoid it altogether, and I find some strides a good compromise since running is a natural part of being human. While distance running is thought of as a fascia killer I would argue that doing tempo runs with small volumes is a great way to screen function and seeing some simple conditioning changes. Twice a week for 2400 yards will not castrate the hormones and is a simple way to monitor fatigue. Recovery runs have merit and are biochemically doing more than just getting blood flow.
One question that I have is the use of a high intensity day of lower body lifting the day after. Patrick Ward has asked this question as many NFL or College D1 football programs have suggested going hard the day after.
This recommendation contradicts some of the ideas I have heard a few strength coaches make who recommend doing the most intense training session the day following competition so that it is performed furthest from the next competition and the athlete can have greater time to recover before the next game. I often wonder if this recommendation comes from coaches who are not monitoring stress and recovery as much as Mr. Coutts is.
One problem is that if you go 48 hours later it’s hard to fit two days of training, so I would think perhaps going a light lifting day afterwords and going heavier later may work, but nobody has really good data on this. One MLB team is looking at profiling power of starting pitchers with some of the latest technology, and I wonder if their pitching health being high is an indicator of lower body strength being solid during the season is the direction we need.
What Eric warns about is the total amount of intense continuous endurance training ruining power. He is right as the evidence of replacing distance running with sprints has been shown to help with power development (wattage of jumps) specifically with baseball. With the Auburn study from 1992 suggesting that pitchers train exclusively for power, one can falsely argue that no conditioning is required. I think we should think of the conditioning as part of athlete wellness, since post workout drinks are not going to help those that simply need basic fitness and the ability to leverage nutrient partitioning.
So what would I do theoretically? Here is my 5 day rotation if I was creating an experiment. It may work or implode, but at least it will find out what is happening.
Day 1- SAHRRT (modified for American Baseball) 3 x 6 x 80-120 yard strides with GSBB Circuit LSU style (circuit is based off of TMG profile) Manual Therapy and Cuff Work
Day 2- Medicine Ball and Movement Day
Day 3 -Heavy Lifting Day (Power Measurement) and Cuff Work
Day 4 – SAHRRT (modified for American Baseball) 3 x 6 x 80-120 yard strides (hard acceleration for 10m) and Manual therapy * or Flexibility Circuit if Fatigue is High from the third day.
One can argue that while this fits the Rugby Research better but perhaps it will overtrain athletes that are simply not in shape. I don’t know, but I would love to see GSR and other data sets such as daily HRV and hormone testing throughout the season. The CK values from the Auburn study are very high, showing that while the pitchers are not moving around much they are producing a huge workload on their legs and backs. Perhaps we will see more discussion from baseball strength coaches that have experienced different sequences of training for pitchers down the road. I hope someone in the majors and minors do some sport science work to crack the code better.