There is a growing debate over developing an established pitchers’ regimen using long distance running as a part of their training, or whether this is the wrong approach and that sprint work is better suited for pitchers. The root question at the heart of this debate and the essential point of this article: What are you training for?
It is essential to first answer this question to best understand how to train yourself for your activity. A swimmer doesn’t train the same way a cross country runner does, who doesn’t train the same way as a football player or baseball player; all these different athletes must train differently to compete differently. However, it is important to also concede and understand that all athletes use a variety of cross-over skills and activities that transcend all lines of sports, land or water.
Cardiovascular endurance and strength are essential for all athletes to compete; if you can’t breathe and recover you can’t compete. An athlete’s ability to recover as quickly as possible is almost as important, if not more so, as his or her ability to prepare; if he or she cannot recover they will not be able to compete at the same rate and level as their competitors. Running, long or short distances, is an important tool in the tool box for developing a highly competitive athlete. Young baseball and softball players who have been active in sports and are entering high school might find themselves in a conditioning program that begins with long distance running and then closer to season, and within the season, focusing primarily on sprinting. It begs the question, in a sport where the longest action may last 30 seconds, why would baseball programs use long distance running? The answer is that in high school program coaching staffs must create training programs that help those kids without proper conditioning to catch up to gain endurance and help ready their hearts and lungs to recover quicker for the sprinting that is essential for baseball and softbal success.
Baseball and softball is a sprinting sport and the more sprint work and speed work one can do, the better off they’ll be, because foot speed has no off day. Pitchers have to push their bodies to maximum energy levels in short bursts over and over again and their ability to recover can be the difference in the quality of performance to performance and pitch to pitch. The ability to explode, hold focus and then recover are broad terms pitchers hear but are hard to train for; but by altering your training to more explosive speed-centered work outs in combination with resistance training, weight training, long toss and other pitcher development training, your pitchers can best reach their highest potentials.