Why I believe baseball players shouldn’t power clean:
Power is very plane specific. A power clean, hang clean, clean and jerk, or any other type of Olympic lift is performed inside the sagittal plane. While this is great for many athletes in other sports, baseball takes place in all three planes; the sagittal plane, transverse plane, and the frontal plane but most training programs spend most of their time in the sagittal plane. But wouldn’t any kind of power output help for an athlete? The short answer to this question is yes. My rebuttal is, wouldn’t you rather do something that is going to give you the maximum amount of benefit? Your short answer to this should be yes.
“The Catch” puts stress on elbow and wrist joints. I had an athlete ask me if I was a fan of power cleans or not. My short answer to him was, “not particularly, it puts a lot of stress on your wrists and elbows.” His reply made my point because he then said “yeah I blew out my wrist cleaning a couple months ago.” Obviously it might be a rare case where a wrist blows out. On the other hand, think about when a big leaguer injures his wrist and how long he’s out for, and even when they come back it takes them a while to be the same. It’s more difficult to grip a bat, you don’t have as much strength at contact. While it may be a rare occasion that your wrist blows out or you damage your elbow, the reward is definitely not worth the risk.
Baseball players already have far more joint laxity than other athletes as is. Joint laxity is when the joints are loose and when joints are loose it leads to instability in those joints. According to research, about 61% of pitchers and 47% of baseball players have instability in their shoulders. Pitchers are encouraged to take some time off from throwing each year to let the joint laxity in their shoulder tighten back up from all of the throwing they have done. When it comes to cleaning, the lowering force, assuming there is no drop, can be a big issue in loose shoulders and elbows.
Qualified people are not teaching the proper form for these exercises. This one is pretty simple. I have heard from multiple high school baseball players that power cleans are a common exercise in their preseason workouts. Now I don’t claim to know everything, but some, not all, high school weight training teachers are underqualified to teach how to perform lifts, but they still have degrees in physical education and are pretty knowledgeable about physical fitness. Most high school baseball coaches are teachers who enjoy coaching baseball. Now whether or not they do Olympic lifts in their free time, it does not make them qualified to teach those lifts. I think most high school coaches will admit that they don’t know a lot about strength training. Unfortunately, the reason they have optional workouts prior to season is not for the development of the players but rather to see who is committed to their program and to build a comradery amongst the players.
While Olympic lifts such as the clean have great benefits for athletes in other sports, the benefit is not nearly the same in baseball. Overhead and rotational athletes need to be trained in a way that will elevate them to elite status in more than just the sagittal plane. Stay tuned to find out the best ways to get outside of the sagittal plane.
Also, now is a really great time to get started with Power Training. Training is 25% off for the entire month of December so you can get 4 weeks of Power Training for only $130. Also, the all new DS Power Manual is now available for as low as $40 a month. You can read about the DS Power Manu here.