Grip Strength: Not Just For Position Players!

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GRIP STRENGTH FOR BASEBALL PLAYERS

There are many coaches who will tell you that grip strength is something you absolutely NEED to become a great baseball player.

Some coaches will tell you that grip strength really doesn’t matter.

SO…what’s the deal?

I think it depends on the question, and you must ask the question the right way. For example, does grip strength increase swing velocity? Does grip strength allow you to become stronger? Does grip strength help your elbow out when pitching?

These are all great questions, and they will all have slightly different answers.

There are really two types of grip strength: pinching and crushing


Pinching Grip Strength: What and How

Pinching strength deals with the amount of tension you can develop within the intrinsic muscles of the hand. Other words, the strength of your fingers. I think this type of strength is really only applicable to pitchers and possibly catchers.

Pitchers need a fair amount of pinching strength for applying different amounts of pressure on the baseball when throwing a certain pitch.

Catchers, on the other hand (no pun intended), need a fair amount of pinching strength to a certain degree for pitch framing.

Here are some exercises:


Crushing Grip Strength: What and How

Crushing strength deals with the amount of tension you can develop within the extrinsic muscles of the hand, controlling the forearm.

This type of strength is more applicable on the offensive side because you’ll need to be able to hold onto the bat when contact is made with the ball.

Although some will say that the swing isn’t a “pushing” motion, I still think that grip strength is important for being able to push the ball and stay through for as long as possible.

Here’s why…

The Texas Rangers performed a study [1] testing grip strength, power, and speed. These metrics were then correlated to performance measurements like batting average, slugging percentage, home runs, and stolen bases.

Grip strength was actually highly correlated with home runs and slugging percentage. Interesting, to say the least…

There are a ton of exercises you can do to increase your crushing strength. Just pick up something heavy and don’t let it fall! I think loaded carries are a game changer. Here are a few variations:

A FARMER carry includes two implements, one in each hand.

A SUITCASE carry includes one implement in one hand.

You can change the stimulus with the implement. Holding a dumbbell by the “bell” is more difficult than holding it by the handle.

The weights don’t have to be identical either!

Another way to increase your crushing strength is to change the implement. Simply throw a band or towel in between a kettlebell and start walking! You’ll notice that it is a lot harder to start walking.

I also like the idea of changing the speed of the carry. Slow and controlled movements are just as difficult as walking as quick as you can and changing direction with the implement.


Research

The Texas Rangers study [1] shows us that grip strength IS important for the baseball player. You need to be strong to hit fingers, that’s not rocket science.

BUT, does grip strength correlate to higher bat velocities?

Well, research says no [2].

One study, out of many, showed that grip strength had little to no correlation to bat velocity. Although bat velocity AND grip strength DID go up in this study, a covariate analysis showed that it did not come from grip strength!

To conclude, if you want to be a more successful hitter, get your grip strength up, get your relative strength up, and train in specific planes where you need to move quick.

For previous articles on these matters, click here and here.

Start gripping!


Stay strong,

Jarad Vollkommer, CSCS

Assistant Director of Training

Infiniti Sports Performance


References

  1. Hoffman, Jay R., et. al., Anthropometric and performance comparisons in professional baseball players. J. Strength and Cond. Res. 23(8): 2173-2178, 2009.
  2. Hughes, S.S., Lyons, B.C., and Mayo, J.J. (2004). Effect of grip strength and grip strengthening exercises on instantaneous bat velocity of collegiate baseball players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 18(2), 298-301.

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