Are you a 5 Tool Athlete?
The primary goal of this blog is simple:
Help baseball players become better athletes
The Five Athletic Tools
In the game of baseball, my first passion, a “Five Tool” player is used to describe a well rounded baseball that can do it all and are often described as true “athletes”. Below is a picture of Willie Mays who is the very definition of a 5 tool player – those baseball tools are:
Hit for Power
I have adapted this term to describe the manner in which I train athletes, my second passion, in order to ensure that they have the athletic tools that they need to bring their game to the next level. These 5 tools that will be described sum up my brand of athletic training that I have developed over the last 15+ years of playing, coaching and learning about strength and conditioning.
Tool #1 – Velocity
This is an obvious one especially for baseball in regards to throwing velocity. Baseball is a game of velocity. Bat velocity is another valuable asset that allows you as a hitter the ability to wait longer in order to determine if you want to swing which when you climb to higher levels of baseball decreases due to the increased throwing velocities that accompany these higher levels.
Another name for velocity is speed which is another of the five baseball tools that scouts ask “Can he run?” The ability to apply strength (the next tool) quickly is what is going to make you fast by being able to put more force into the ground quickly which is the real secret to moving very fast.
Tool # 2 – Strength
The day and age where baseball players were encouraged to stay out to the gym in fear of becoming too bulky are near the end which is great due to the endless benefits that being strong provides to a baseball player.
Strengths primary benefit is due to the fact that it is the other half of the Power equation when combined with speed/velocity, tool #1.
Speed/Velocity X Strength/Force = POWER!!!
Speed X Strength = POWER!!!
Fast X Strong = POWER!!!
It then becomes obvious why a baseball player would want to strength train if they want to be described as “Power Hitter” or a “Power Pitcher” – two of the most sought after type of players in the game.
This blog will cover the what, how, when and why’s of the weight room as it applies to the game of baseball so you can add more power to your game.
Tool #3 – Agility
“Agility is the ability to change the body’s position efficiently” Wikipedia
I hope that this is the last time I reference Wikipedia on this site but I think that this description is dead on. Baseball by nature is a game that is composed of short bursts of actions that require high levels of agility in order to go from a standstill and a dead sprint as quickly as possible.
Acceleration as a result of the bases only being 90 feet apart becomes imperative since it is very unlikely that you will hit your top speed. Elite 100m sprints don’t hit their top speed until about 60meters into the race which would place them in shallow right field if they started from the batter’s box.
With the extreme forces that are being produced in this game ones ability to deccelrate also becomes a priority in order to not only prevent injuries but to optimally transfer energy which for both throwing and swinging are crucial.
Tool #4 – Endurance
My description of endurance describes the type of endurance that allows you to play each game and play it to the end. Endurance for different sports means different things; endurance runners need endurance to run 1+ while a baseball player needs their arm to stay healthy in order to play 100+ games.
This tool will cover a broad spectrum ranging from nutrition, rest, arm pre-hab, soft tissue work, power endurance and cardiovascular training that when combined will keep strong and healthy. Staying off the side lines for whatever reason will provide you the ability to constantly sharpen and improve the other 4 athletic tools not to mention your baseball skills.
When I mention endurance think of Cal Ripken Jr. (2,632 consecutive games), Lou Gehrig (2,130 consective games) or Nolan Ryan throwing 100mph into his 40′s. That is baseball endurance.
In order to produce 90+mph fastballs and 400+ft home runs you will require great throwing and swing mechanics which require a certain degree of flexibility and mobility. With optimal mobility you can display your new found levels of speed and strength over a greater range of motion without restriction which is the true recipe to creating the power needed to excel in the game of baseball. Looking at throwing in particular you need mobility to get to some of the following positions:
Mobility will also improve our endurance capability by ensuring that your “Quality of Movement” is up to snuff which will reduce your chances of sustaining some type of preventable injury (i.e. muscle imbalances, overuse)
There you have it: the Five Athletic Tools that make up a well rounded baseball athlete.
Graeme Lehman MSc, CSCS