Getting the Force Out in Baseball

According to wikipedia, force is an influence that may cause a body to accelerate. Plain and simple, right? Yeah, if you are a physicist, but what if you are a baseball player?

This article is going to break down how force relates to the different bodies involved in the game of baseball – the bat, the ball, and of course, your body. More force to the bat means you can swing faster. More force behind the ball means that you can throw faster, harder, and farther. More strength from your body means that you can run, jump, and slide faster as well as apply more force to the ball and through the bat.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the term force? Chances are it is strength. Strength is often thought of as being able to lift the heaviest load possible which is why so many athletes are concerned with their maximum bench press or squat numbers. While strength is an important component of force we also need to include the acceleration component.

Think back to the last time you did a maximum bench press. How fast was the bar moving? My guess is that it was a pretty slow moving lift, right? Imagine swinging your bat with that strength level without any added acceleration. You've got to start your swing before the pitcher gets the sign from his catcher! Sure this is an extreme example, but it proves the point that you need to have rapid acceleration applied to your strength.

According to the definition of force, if two ball players are lifting the same amount of weight, the one who lifts it faster is the one producing more force. Kind of reminds me of Newton's 2nd law of Motion:

"When a force acts upon a body, it impedes an acceleration proportional to the force and inversely proportional to the mass of the body and in the direction of the force."

Or

Force = Mass * Acceleration

So, we are taking the scientific definition of force and changing it to our baseball definition. For baseball, force is the rapid application of your strength to move the ball, your bat, and your body around the baseball diamond.

Now the big question – How can you develop more force?

The simple answer is that you can develop more force by increasing either the amount of weight that you lift or the speed at which you lift the current weight that you are using.

But in an ideal situation we want to optimize both the load being lifted as well as the speed at which you lift the load. This will make you a stronger (heavier load) and faster (rapid acceleration) baseball player because our bodies apply the SAID principle – Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands.

With that being "SAID," here is how you can apply this concept to your training right away.

On each repetition of each set be sure that you are training explosively. This means that you control the weight as it moves down and then explode the weight as you lift it. If you feel that you had to struggle with the weight it was too heavy for you. If, on the other hand, you were so explosive that you felt the momentum of the lift getting out of control, it was too heavy for you. Unfortunately there is no concrete equation to know exactly what weight you should be using, but if you apply a little common sense you will quickly zone in on the proper weight for you.