SOME STRENGTH TRAINING VARIABLES HAVE ONLY MINOR RELATIONSHIPS WITH BASEBALL SKILL PERFORMANCES
Szymanski, D. J., Szymanski, J. M., Brooks, K. A., Braswell, M. T., Britt, A. T., Hsu, H-S., Lowe, H. E., Taylor, E. G., & Weil, K. L. (2009). The relationship between power and lean body mass to sport-specific skills of college baseball players. ACSM 56th Annual Meeting, Seattle, Washington. Presentation number 2323.
"Baseball is an anaerobic, power sport. Players need to perform the skills of hitting, throwing, and running explosively. Research suggests that these baseball-specific skills can be predicted from fitness and performance tests. Player profiles created with these types of data are of considerable interest to college baseball coaches because it greatly enhances the recruiting process. If coaches had information that may help predict successful baseball skill performance, they could possibly do a better job of recruiting players for scholarships. This could ultimately help teams win more games."
This study determined the relationship of various physiological characteristics to sport-specific skills of college baseball players (N = 37). Tests included percent body fat, lean body mass, grip strength, upper (1 RM bench press and 1-arm dumbbell row) and lower body (1 RM squat) strength, rotational power (medicine ball side toss), leg power (vertical jump), running speed (10-, 30-, 60-yard sprint), throwing velocity, bat velocity, and batted-ball velocity.
Significant relationships were indicated between bat velocity and batted-ball velocity (r = 0.70); 60-yard and 30-yard sprint (r = 0.77) and 10-yard sprint (r = 0.70) [one would have expected these variables to be related]. Significant relationships were indicated between bat velocity and vertical jump (r = 0.58), lean body mass (r = 0.43); medicine ball side toss and bat velocity (r = 0.50), throwing velocity (r = 0.49), batted ball velocity (r = 0.45); 1 RM squat and 1 RM bench press (r = 0.58). Significant negative relationships were indicated between 60 yd sprint and vertical jump (r = -0.57). Coefficients of determination for all variables were also calculated. Of particular interest was bat velocity and batted-ball velocity (r2 = 0.49), vertical jump (r2 = 0.34), medicine ball side toss (r2 = 0.25), lean body mass (r2 = 0.18); medicine ball side toss and throwing velocity (r2 = 0.24), batted-ball velocity (r2 = 0.20); 60-yard sprint and 30-yard sprint (r2 = 0.59), 10-yard sprint (r2 = 0.49), vertical jump (r2 = -0.32). Although these were significant relationships, they were far from impressive indicating other variables are more important in the skills contemplated than those measured here. The variables considered here would have little value for predicting baseball skill performances.
Implication. Some variables usually considered to design strength training programs have minor relationships with performance measures in college baseball players, and have little predictive value.
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