When I was a freshman in high school, lifting weights was something foreign to me. In fact, it was something that I really didn’t even have a desire to do. I wanted to play baseball. I figured if you want to improve your baseball skills, then you play more baseball, right? Well, I very quickly learned that you have to find a good balance between strength and sport. It took a bit longer than I wish it would’ve, but once I realized I couldn’t out-perform my physical capabilities, it clicked.
Baseball was great because there were a lot of motivating people around me. I can’t tell you the number of times a friend or teammate motivated me to go to the gym when I didn’t want to go. When you surround yourself with a good group of teammates, you can push each other to be great every single day. But not only was I motivated by my teammates, but I was also motivated by my coaches. As I went through high school and participated in countless showcases, college coach after college coach preached, “You have to get stronger,” or, “you have all the tools, you just need the strength.” Was that tough to hear over and over again? Yes! But was it also motivational? Yes! When you hear advice directly from the people you want to be recruited by…you take the advice. So, I began giving more attention to my strength training in an effort to move forward. It was my only choice. And let me tell you, it paid off.
Once I made it to the collegiate level, the strength component didn’t relax though, it only intensified. You realize very quickly how important strength training is to your success. I always knew this, but college ball really opened my eyes. Everything I was ever told about how hard you have to work was confirmed the second I walked on campus. You were up for early morning weights, then some guys would go workout again after practice. You’ll see coaches put a huge emphasis on strength because not only does it help you personally, it helps the team and the program too. But here’s the kicker…you’re expected to come in strong. I’ve heard multiple coaches in my career say, ‘I don’t have time to bring you in and get you in shape, you better come in ready’. Hearing things like that motivated me like no other.
What kind of strength were these collegiate coaches looking for? Leg strength. If you have a very strong base, it shows in your performance. Many guys chase size and look more for the ‘appearance’ of strength, but I wasn’t one of those guys. I wanted to be as strong as possible so I could advance in my baseball career. Looking back on my years of baseball, I can vividly remember when I started noticing myself hitting the ball further, throwing harder, and running faster. Now don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t something that happened overnight. It took a lot of time and dedication. But, I’ll tell you right now – it was worth it. It leaves you with a feeling of self-accomplishment and has the opportunity to be the launching pad for your career.
But you have to keep going!
You have to ask yourself every day what you’re doing to make yourself better. The focus on lifting grows and grows as you advance in your career, so I’d strongly suggest you start early. Even if it isn’t lifting heavy weights, get into that hard-working mentality/routine and it will inspire the people around you. It’s never an easy feat, but always strive to be the hardest working player on your team. That kind of effort never goes unnoticed, and it develops a great character trait. I know I didn’t get into any specifics for certain exercises or strength training programs, my attention was more to highlight the importance of taking that first step. Because let’s face it….
You never want to look back on your career when it’s over and wish that you could’ve done more.
Author: Brooks Estrada