Coach's Guide to Offseason Conditioning

(AP Photo/Robert Mecea)

When it comes to baseball training, certain old-school myth's simply won't die. Low weight/High rep sets, traditional rotator cuff work (if it's so good why is everyone getting hurt?), using balance boards and other silly gadgets, etc. But what may be the most misunderstood aspect of training, with its fair share of training myths, is conditioning for baseball.

Athletes at whatever level no longer have the necessary generalized training, basic motor skills, or the work threshold to undergo rigorous work and the fortitude to press on. Training - all training - must first recognize the need for a base or foundation.

So I began incorporating work known as GPP (General Physical Preparation).

What is GPP and How Can It Help a Baseball Player?

GPP done properly, can be the hidden gem to improve athletic performance at all levels -- no matter age, experience or conditioning level. But like many new concepts of training, they are easily misunderstood and incorporated in an incorrect manner.

The eight basic points that GPP has classically targeted are:

  • increase work threshold, levels of fitness
  • assist in muscular recovery from arduous training
  • provide a unique variation to training that may have become monotonous or routine
  • enhance motor skills, general grafting of movement
  • provide a conduit to sport-specific movement patterns where appropriate or transitory effect during training macro-cycle
  • development of sub-maximal explosive work and introduction into "complex" styles of training
  • prepare the psychological process of concentration with the "fog of war"
    develop a relentless thirst for victory

From a compliance standpoint GPP is typically performed in both

(a) Weighted and
(b) Non-weighted variations

Today we are going to focus on the non-weighted version of GPP.

Science Behind GPP

GPP typically involves "simple" bodyweight calisthenics further broken down into active recovery (i.e. jumping jacks, shuffle splits) along with semi-explosive work (i.e. burpees/ squat thrusts and mountain climbers). Each section of "active recovery" and "semi-explosive" work consists of two consecutive sections of 30 seconds each and thus an entire "circuit" equals two minutes of consistent movement.

Foot contacts (sub-maximal) are generally in the 1:1 ratio in Active Recovery (30 movements per 30 seconds) with an acceptable range of .33-.5:1 (10-15 total movements per 30 seconds) and graphically training volume will exhibit a wave type pattern in both time duration and foot contacts. Total foot contacts will vary between 80-90 per two-minute circuit with recovery-based contacts representing 60-75% of that total.

Non-weighted GPP will start with 6 minutes of total work without rest in between sets in a highly periodized program that increases total duration over time. However this amount will greatly depend upon the athlete's starting position and if need be adjusted to suit there long terms goals. Recovery work must always be done in equal proportion to semi-explosive work from a timed capacity while always ensuring top quality form in all the movements. Never allow the athlete to do any of the work with poor form or bad postural alignment.

Teach the athlete to relax during actions, adjust them to dealing with a multitude of different and simultaneous stimuli and gradually learn to make the difficult easy. Consider this point intensely as it is integral component in teaching the athlete to become conditioned to chaotic and ever-changing environments -- which is EVERYTHING in baseball, yet NOBODY trains for it. Ever ask yourself why? If you come up with a good answer let me know.

Everyone knows the term "choke" and it's every ballplayers worst nightmare. In order to ensure this does not happen, you must train for it. GPP can be a part of this plan. Teaching your body to control heart rate in an ever-changing, stressful environment will allow those "pressure-packed" situations to seem like 5 o'clock batting practice.

In addition, GPP allows for ballistic training, which is vital for baseball. Short burst of highly-explosive work will translate onto the diamond and into the win column and box score.

Most coaches have their players perform endless running to "get in shape". While sprinting is necessary, GPP kicks the crap out of distance running every time. GPP is quicker, less boring and much more applicable to baseball. No to mention it does not bring the risk of repetitive stress injuries that running does and is also easier on the knees.

GPP Plan

2 minute rounds

Each exercise lasting 30 seconds each - performed in circuit fashion with no rest:

A1. Jumping Jacks -- 30 reps -- 1 per second
A2. Shuffle Splits -- 60 reps -- 2 per second
A3. Burpees -- 10-12 reps
A4. Mountain climbers -- 30 reps

Now, please understand GPP can be personalized for the level of the athlete. As a general rule we always start off with 1 minute rounds (workload cut in half) following 1 minute rest periods then repeat.

Higher level athletes (college and above) can begin with the two minute rounds.

Once fitness is improved you should aim to perform consecutive rounds without rest. Once an athlete can perform 12-18 minute of consecutive GPP, he or she will have developed world-class conditioning. And performance on the field will dramatically improve.

Jon Doyle MA, CSCS is considered the world’s foremost authority on baseball training.  His training techniques have been used by over 500 MLB players, 28 MLB teams, 400 NCAA programs and tens of thousands of High School and youth players to gain a significant advantage of their competition. His website, , is the most visited site of its kind in the world. He is currently offering a FREE subscription to his “Baseball Training Newsletter”.

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