WRIST AND FOREARM STRENGTH EXERCISES ARE OF NO VALUE TO BASEBALL HITTING
Szymanski, D. J., McIntyre, J. S., Szymanski, J. M., Molloy, J. M., Madsen, N. H., & Pascoe, D. D. (2006). Effect of wrist and forearm training on linear bat-end, center of percussion, and hand velocities and on time to ball contact of high school baseball players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 20, 231-240.
This study examined the effects of 12 weeks of wrist and forearm training on linear bat-end velocity, center of percussion velocity, hand velocity, and time-to-ball contact of high school baseball players (N = 43). Ss were randomly assigned by a stratified sampling technique to either of two training groups. Group 1 (N = 23) and Group 2 (N = 20) performed the same full-body resistance exercises while training three days a week for 12 weeks according to a stepwise periodized model. Group 2 also performed wrist and forearm exercises three days a week for 12 weeks. Wrist and forearm strength were measured pre- and post-training. Linear bat-end velocity, center of percussion velocity, hand velocity, and time-to-ball contact were recorded pre- and post-training by a motion-capture system. A three repetition maximum parallel squat and bench press were measured at baseline and after 4, 8, and 12 weeks of training.
Both groups showed statistically significant increases in linear bat-end velocity, center of percussion velocity, and hand velocity after 12 weeks of training; however, there were no differences between the two groups. Both groups statistically increased wrist and forearm strength. Group 2 had statistically greater increases in 10 of 12 wrist and forearm strength measures than did Group 1. Both groups made similar statistically significant increases in predicted 1 RM parallel squat and bench press after 4, 8, and 12 weeks of training.
Implication. These data indicate that a 12-week stepwise periodized training program can significantly increase wrist and forearm strength, linear bat-end velocity, center of percussion velocity, and hand velocity among high school baseball players. However, increased wrist and forearm strength did not contribute to further increases in linear bat-end velocity, center of percussion velocity, or hand velocity although variables specific to the exercises used in training did. Specialized wrist and forearm strength exercise programs are likely to have little to no effect on baseball hitting performance since they do not promote changes in variables that have slight correlations with baseball hitting performances. [This study is but one more indication that it is the exercises used in resistance training that improve (the "specificity of training effect") while transfers to game performance measures are either not measured or do not occur in variables that are theoretically "closer" to game performances.]
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