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Dustin Pedroia’s Off-Season Training Plan

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While most baseball fans were probably shocked that a man measuring just 5’9″ and weighing 180 pounds had won the 2008 AL Most Valuable Player trophy, we at STACK weren’t the least bit surprised. With his unyielding determination, Dustin Pedroia personifies what hard work can do for athletes of any size and shape. Add in the fact that he’s a team-first guy—he selflessly gave up his scholarship to a college teammate—and it’s clear that even greater success awaits.

Though he’s only been on the MLB scene for two years, Dustin plays the game like a grizzled veteran. He has already accomplished more than most do in a career. In 2007, the gritty second baseman earned a World Series ring and was named the AL Rookie of the Year, after hitting .317 with eight homers and 50 RBIs. He topped that his second season, hitting .326 with 17 long balls and a clutch 83 RBIs, and joins Cal Ripken, Jr. and Ryan Howard as the only players in MLB history to win Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in consecutive seasons.

“When I first got called up to the major leagues in 2006, I really didn’t know what to expect,” Dustin says. “I really didn’t set any expectations or goals on myself. My biggest thing was, if I’m in the lineup that day, I’m going to play as hard as I can and try to help our team. That’s been my mentality ever since I got called up. That’s how I’m going to be successful. I have to keep that mindset every season. Last year, I was very successful. Hopefully, I can continue that.”

Because of his win-at-all-costs attitude, individual awards have followed Dustin at every level of his baseball career—even though he admits that personal honors aren’t what he sets his sights on. But despite his successes and the fact that he dominated the high school landscape in Woodland, Calif., college coaches and pro scouts steered away because of his minuscule 5’2” and 140-pound frame. It wasn’t until his senior season, when he destroyed opposing pitchers at California’s Area Code Games, that college offers came rolling in.

Dustin chose Arizona State University, one of the more prestigious programs in the country. “I had four other trips planned out, [but] I wanted to play in the Pac-10, so I cancelled all my trips and kind of committed [to ASU],” he says. “I knew if I went there, I would have a good chance of getting drafted and playing professional baseball.”

With a goal in mind and a burning desire to make it a reality, Dustin dominated his college experience while molding a baseball resumé highlighted by talent, unselfish play and a workout regimen that is still with him today.

A Star in the Desert
Dustin wasted little time showing that he belonged at a top-tier college program. His stellar freshman campaign saw him grab secondteam all-conference honors. A gifted athlete with solid natural hitting instincts, he also was improving in the field, morphing from a good defensive player into a great one.

Then, proving that his team-first mentality wasn’t all talk, Dustin gave up his scholarship prior to his sophomore year so the team could sign a stud pitcher. That season, the former JuCo hurler went undefeated with a 2.73 ERA, while Dustin was the Pac-10 Co-Player of the Year and Second-Team All-American, helping the Sun Devils reach the NCAA Regionals.

“I was on pretty much a full ride, so I gave it back so we could get this guy,” he says. “I got drafted pretty high, so I figured if I gave my scholarship back, I’d be able to have enough money in the long run anyway. So it’s one of those things that I had to do for that guy.”

Dustin went on to earn a First-Team All- American nod his final season. “Once you get to college, they have people who prepare you [for success],” he says. “In the fall, when we weren’t playing, [the goal was] get as strong as you can and as fast as you can; I try to take that into professional baseball, as well.” During his three years at ASU, Dustin began to realize how a strict training regimen could positively influence his game. Blend that with a five-inch growth spurt—and an abundance of natural athletic ability—and you get a rock-solid baseball foundation.

With all the essentials in tow, Dustin embarked on his MLB dream when the Boston Red Sox chose him in the second round of the 2004 draft. It didn’t take long for him to make an impact. He dominated minor-league hurlers and was an everyday big leaguer by the start of the 2007 season.

Baseball enthusiasts often identify Dustin as Boston’s mighty-mite second baseman, but to his peers, he’s one of the most dedicated and intense players in the game. “I’m not the biggest guy in the world, so you always have those doubters that say you’re too small and you can’t do this, or you can’t do that,” he says.“But you have to go out there and prove them wrong every day.”

Off -Season Training
To prove the naysayers wrong—and to make sure they pay more attention to his talent than to his size—Dustin has amped up his winter training. He spends his off-season in a familiar locale, at Athletes’ Performance in Tempe, Ariz. At the state-of-the-art facility, which is a stone’s throw away from ASU’s athletic facilities, Dustin receives top-of-the-line training from Craig Friedman, AP’s director of methodology.

According to Friedman, Dustin brings a non-stop motor and an impeccable work ethic every time he steps foot on AP’s grounds. “He knows that if all he does is show up, that’s not going to be enough, and he definitely brings his work ethic anytime he comes to the field and anytime he comes to a workout,” Friedman says. “Dustin is an extremely hard working athlete, and at the same time very confident. I think that confidence comes from his hard work, because he is probably considered an undersized, underpowered athlete; and I think he has to work harder than most athletes to be able to do what he needs to do on the field.”

Dustin has had to increase his training to stay fit throughout the marathon MLB season, with an emphasis on getting stronger and faster. The more intense workouts also have been key to unlocking and maintaining his elite-athlete status. “That’s why I train [at AP] and get ready for the season, because I feel it’s the best fit for me and makes me become a better athlete,” he says. “I’m just trying to get faster and stronger. Last off season, I had surgery on my hand, so it kind of affected me a little bit getting stronger. This offseason I was healthy, and I was able to get a lot stronger and a lot faster.”

Since baseball involves so much rotation and upper-body strength, Friedman runs Dustin through sport specific exercises that help him get stronger and stay injury free. “Playing the game of baseball at a high level puts your body in awkward positions and involves a lot of rotation, so we try to mimic those movements during workouts to simulate game-type situations,” Friedman says.

Rookie of the Year, MVP and World Series champ in just two years could make some athletes complacent. But Dustin isn’t just any athlete—he’s a standout on the cusp of superstardom, thanks to his all-business approach to the weight room and diamond.

Too small to be a star? Where are those naysayers now?

Pedroia’s Plan

Medicine Ball Rotational Power

Benefits: Friedman: “The rotational emphasis is working on the kinetic chain, which passes power through the body from the hips and feet, up through the torso and arms. You have to let the hips be the trigger and let the torso be the conduit to get everything going through your hands and into the medicine ball.”

Perform two sets of five repetitions of the following med ball exercises standing about 3 to 4 feet away from a wall.

1. Parallel Throws
• Holding med ball in front, assume athletic stance facing wall with feet slightly wider than shoulder width
• Rotate left until med ball is at left hip
• Leading with hips, explosively rotate right to throw ball against wall as hard as possible
• Catch rebound and repeat for specified reps
• Perform set on opposite side

Coaching Points: Keep your weight even on both feet // Make sure to initiate the throw with your back hip // Throw med ball with your hips more than your arms

2. Perpendicular Throws
• Holding med ball in front, assume athletic stance with feet slightly wider than shoulder width and wall to right
• Rotate left until med ball is behind left hip
• Leading with hips, explosively rotate right to throw ball against wall as hard as possible
• Catch rebound and repeat for specified reps
• Perform set on opposite side

Coaching Points: Keep your back flat and chest up // Make sure to initiate the throw with your back hip // Throw the ball against the wall so you can catch it in the same path that you threw it

3. Rotational Chest Pass
• Holding med ball in front of chest, assume athletic stance with feet slightly wider than shoulder width and wall to right
• Leading with hips, explosively rotate right and fully extend back arm to push ball against wall as hard as possible
• Catch rebound and repeat for specified reps
• Perform set on opposite side

Coaching Points: Keep the ball tight to your body throughout the rotation // Make sure to finish with your chest facing the wall

4. Rotational Slams
• Assume athletic stance with feet slightly wider than shoulder width and hold med ball at waist level
• Using hips and torso, swing ball right and then overhead in circular motion
• Explosively throw med ball into ground in front of right foot
• Catch rebound and repeat for specified reps
• Perform set on opposite side

Coaching Points: Reach ball as high as possible over your head, without extending your back // Explosively throw ball to the ground by contracting your abs, upper back muscles, and arms // Keep your hips tall during the throw with a tight core and flat back

Upper-Body Strength and Power

Benefits: Friedman: “With so much throwing and rotating in baseball, it’s important to strengthen your upper body to prevent injury. Three of the exercises we perform really help build strength in the necessary areas. The Rotational Row really teaches you how to transfer power from your legs through your torso and into your arms. The X Pull Down strengthens your entire posterior chain, protecting your shoulders from injury. The Weighted Neutral-Grip Pull-Up really works grip, back and core strength.”

5. Rotational Row
• With cable machine to right, assume athletic stance with feet slightly wider than shoulder width
• Reach across body with left hand, turning hips and shoulders to cable machine, to hold handle set at low position
• Explosively rotate hips left and bring handle across body until it’s above and outside left shoulder
• Return to start position and repeat for specified reps
• Perform set on opposite side

Sets/Reps: 2×10 each side
Coaching Points: Turn your shoulders toward and away from the cable machine with each rep // Make sure your hips are pointed away from the weight stack at the end of each rep // The movement should feel like a rotational clean pull

6. Weighted Neutral-Grip Pull-Up
• With weight attached to belt around waist, grab neutral-grip pull-up bar so that palms face each other
• Pull yourself up until chin is above bar
• Lower with control until arms are almost straight
• Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3×8
Coaching Points: Perform the movement while keeping as vertical as possible and avoid turning it into a horizontal pull // Keep your back straight and don’t use your body for momentum // Keep a slight bend in your elbows at the bottom of the pull-up

7. X Pull Down
• Kneel in front of crossover cable machine; cross arms and grasp opposite handles with each hand
• Without arching back, retract shoulder blades, then pull elbows to side of body; straighten and externally rotate arms in fluid motion so thumbs point back
• Return to start position and repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 2×10
Coaching Points: Use your shoulder blades, not your arms, to initiate the movement // Keep your stomach tight, chest up and head straight throughout the movement // Get your chest as big as possible in the finished position

Lower-Body Explosive Power

Benefits: Friedman: “We’ll perform Squat Jumps immediately following our primary lower-body strength movement for that day. The Squat Jump really helps with explosive power and speed.”

8. Squat Jump
• Begin with feet slightly wider than shoulder width and hands behind head
• Perform squat and explosively jump as high as possible
• Land softly in squat position and immediately perform again
• Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3×8
Coaching Points: Don’t let your knees pass beyond your toes in squat position // Jump into full extension and try to pull toes to shins in mid-air // Keep chest up and fully extend hips during jump // Absorb your landing through your hips rather than your knees

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