How to Become an Explosive Baseball Player

How to Improve Explosivness in Beginners & Young Baseball Players

Every baseball player wants to run faster, jump higher, throw harder and hit the ball with more power. When parents and athletes first come to me they usually ask questions like “how can my son throw harder”,”how can my son increase his 60 yard dash”, “how can I increase my bat speed and hit the ball further”. Other than improving hitting and throwing mechanics,  baseball players can run faster, jump higher, throw harder, and hit the ball farther by increasing their absolute strength and rate of force development.

Most beginners, especially in high school, will improve bat speed, power and overall arm strength by increasing their absolute strength and relative body strength. I cannot stress the importance of strength for high school baseball players enough. It is the foundation upon which speed, power, agility and all other athletic abilities are built. If you want to see a serious improvement in your game stop doing foo-foo exercises with 5lb dumbbells and therabands and start moving some serious weight! From my experience, young and inexperienced baseball players should focus on developing a solid foundation of strength before they worry about reactive training.

I can’t tell you how many parents are surprised when they see their son suddenly have more pop, quicker hands and run faster because they spend their time in the gym building a foundation of strength and not wasting their time doing these so called sport specific exercises that internet gurus swear by. A la the video below.


Sorry my friends but doing exercises like the one above will not increase your bat speed, nor will it improve your power or do anything for your baseball performance!

How to Improve Explosiveness in Experienced & Advanced Baseball Players

While beginners should focus on getting stronger, advanced athletes have different needs. First off, some baseball players are stronger than they are explosive. I will use myself as an example.  Based on my indicator lifts, the squat and deadlift, I am stronger than I am explosive. I have deadlifted 600lbs with a straight bar and squatted over 410 lbs. I don’t think adding 10 or 15 lbs to my squat or deadlift is going to do a whole lot for my baseball performance. In order to yield optimal results  I should focus on improving my force production.

Athletes who already have a solid foundation of strength should focus on improving rate of force development. Rate of force development refers to how fast you can produce force. Check out this video of me doing a split jerk. A ton of force is being applied to bar. Exercises that are done in an explosive manor are excellent for improving rate of force development.


The Importance of Reactive Training

While I love the Olympic lifts, they are very technical and not easy to learn. They require a lot of skill and a lot of practice. For these reasons I do not have my baseball players do them. I have found that there are more effective ways to improve rate of force development. From my experience, the best way to improve rate of force development in baseball players is to jump, run and throw medicine balls. Box jumps, vertical jumps, broad jumps with bodyweight or with a weighted vest are staples in my program. While these are not the only type of jumps my baseball players do, I use these jumps as an indicator of progress.

Aside from jumps, medicine ball throws are another excellent way to improve force production. There are a ton of different medicine ball exercises baseball players can use. I suggest you experiment with a few different exercises and see what works for you. Sprints are also an excellent way of improving rate of force development. Check out this article of speed training to see how I incorporate sprints into my programs. Another excellent way to improve force production is through weighted sled sprints and drags. I started to implement these when I read Joe DeFranco‘s post, Train slow, be FAST…Guaranteed!. After reading this post, the benefits of heavy sled drags really started to click and I implemented them with my athletes immediately.


-Baseball players that improve their explosive power will increase their potential to throw the ball harder, run faster, have quicker hands and hit the ball with more power.

– Weak baseball players need to focus on improving their absolute strength and relative body strength. Instead of wasting time and energy on reactive training, these type of baseball players should focus on getting stronger.

– Baseball players who are strong and already have a solid foundation (like myself) should focus on reactive training.

– What is your weakness? Are you stronger than you are explosive or more explosive than you are strong? By answering this question you should know weather you should be focusing on absolute strength or reactive training. Please note that most athletes will require both types of training but one may be more important than another depending on that baseball players strengths and weaknesses.

Stay tuned for part II in which I will share with you my favorite exercises to improve reactive ability and rate of force development.


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Leave A Reply (2 comments so far)

  • Great Post, Joe! Couldn’t agree more, people just seem to want the latest “gimmick” rather than accepting that HARD WORK (lifting heavy things) is the key to success. Until a young ball player reaches a certain level of strength in the main movements, he really doesn’t need to focus on anything else.

  • Joe , what is your opinion of isometric strength training?