Energy Systems for Baseball

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A lot of coaches do not consider the energy players exert with every swing, sprint, and exercise. 200 swings with no break, 120 throws, and sprinting the bases. Each of these are unique to baseball. These and other activities require energy. Learning that different energy systems exist and that each impacts the way players should train can give coaches an advantage. The three we will discuss are the ATP-CP system, glycolytic system, and oxidative system

ATP-CP SYSTEM

The ATP-CP system has very limited storage since it’s anaerobic (without oxygen), but it is an instantaneous reaction and is extremely powerful. This system lasts up to 30 seconds, but the next energy system starts to help after around the 10-12 second mark.

GLYCOLYTIC SYSTEM

The glycolytic system is also anaerobic, but it taps into your glucose (sugar in the body) storage and breaks the glucose down to form more ATP. This system fully takes over at around the 30 second mark of exercise. This system has a larger storage and can last up to around the 3 minutes mark of exercise.

OXIDATIVE SYSTEM

The last energy system is the oxidative system. This system is aerobic, so it requires oxygen to be able to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is a compound in our body that produces energy. Since the oxidative system requires oxygen, it has a very slow rate of ATP production, it is dominant during longer-duration, lower intensity exercises starting after 2-3 minutes.

Thinking of baseball movements, plays, and exercises, which system would you say is more dominant most of the time? The answer would be the ATP-CP system. Some of the longest plays in baseball still only last 10-15 seconds, like a triple or an inside the park homerun. Now think about a player throwing a pitch or hitting the ball. Those plays take less than 1-2 seconds. When we train the ATP-CP system we want their max effort and intensity for a short amount of time then let them rest to recover that energy storage. The ATP-CP system takes around 30 seconds to recover halfway and 2-3 minutes to fully recover after full exertion. 

One way to train these systems is to incorporate a work-to-rest ratio for training. A good one that would help with the ATP-CP and glycolytic systems (the most dominant is baseball) would be at least a 1:5 work-to-rest ratio (up to 1:12-15 for max intensity movements). An example is your players perform a 5 second sprint, they should rest at least 25 seconds before their next sprint.

Keep in mind these energy systems next time you all have a practice. Although all energy systems are used in some way, we have to be better about training the correct energy systems and allowing adequate rest times for our athletes. If we fail to account for rest, we may be stifling development.