One of the most common interactions I have with coaches and players goes something like this:

“Brian, I just got home from the Texas Baseball Ranch (or bought Coach Wolforth’s DVDs) and I am at a loss as to what workouts/drills I should implement and, accordingly, what equipment to buy. Coach Wolforth uses almost all of your equipment at the Ranch (or on the DVD), but we only have a limited amount of time to implement some of the workouts/drills and I don’t know what items are best to purchase. What do you think are the most critical pieces of equipment I should get to help myself/my players? What would you buy if you were just starting out? What was most helpful to you when you were playing?”

The above is very typical for me to hear from coaches or individual players. Even if a customer has not been to the Texas Baseball Ranch or watched Coach Wolforth’s DVDs, simply scrolling through our website can be overwhelming as we carry around 140 pieces of workout equipment. So what do I tell these coaches and players when we have this discussion? I simply ask, “What is your goal?”

Most people I talk to want me to respond with an easy, straightforward answer that directs them to the most crucial pieces of equipment that they absolutely can’t do without. But I don’t believe in cookie cutter approaches—whether it be with teaching hitting or pitching mechanics, or in telling people the types of workouts they should be doing. Instead, in order for me to answer their question I need to know what is their goal. I usually get a long pause on the other end of the phone or a blank stare if we are talking in person. So I usually have to follow up my question with examples.

What is your goal this offseason or season? Is it to keep players healthy? Is it to improve strength? Is it to increase flexibility? Is it to increase velocity? Improve command? Speed up recovery time? Get faster? In order to best answer the question I need to know what the athlete’s primary weakness is, or if I am talking to a coach, what his program’s major weakness is. Depending on the answer, I can help direct that player or coach to pieces of equipment, and of course drills and exercises, that will target and help to improve that area of weakness. Most of the time exercises and equipment will overlap and will help with multiple areas. But an athlete who is as strong as an offensive lineman probably should not be buying medicine balls, sleds, and weighted vests as his first pieces of equipment. That strong athlete might, however, struggle with flexibility, and I can point out numerous things that will help improve his flexibility in different areas of his body.

Many people might think they need to get better at everything I listed above. And while it is true that almost everybody can improve to some degree in every athletic category, all of us have some weakness that stands out over the rest. I know at different times in my baseball career these were my major weaknesses: recovery time, staying healthy, velocity, and command. Therefore, depending on which of those issues I was confronting at the moment I needed different pieces of workout equipment in order to properly train to improve my weakness.

So what are the most important pieces of equipment to target and improve the above weaknesses? Here is a short, non-comprehensive list that generally gives you an idea of some of the most recommended workout equipment for different weaknesses. Please keep in mind that this is a general list and that often there are many differences even between two players who share the same weakness and therefore the below list is just a starting point.

Resistance Tubing, Shoulder Tube, Connection Ball, Mini-Medicine Balls, Mini-Trampoline, Wrist Weights, Bell Clubs, Foam Roller

Resistance Tubing, Shoulder Tube, Mini-Medicine Balls, Mini-Trampoline, Wrist Weights, Bell Clubs, Large Diameter Rope, Exercise Bands, Foam Roller

Large Diameter Rope, Adjustable Plyo Box, Bell Clubs, Speed Chains, Hammer Net, Power Sled, Rotational Core Builder, Weighted Vest, Pummel Balls, H20 Strength and Stability Trainer, Double Handle Medicine Ball, Valslide, Gymnastic Rings, Balance Pad

Giant Flat Band Resistance Loop, Core Stretch, Foam Roller, Pro Stretch, Resistance Tubing, Balance Pad

Flat Rung Ladder, Agility Hurdles, Speed Chains, Resisted Running Flat Bands, Speed Chute, Agility Cone Set, Cones, Bungee Cord, Limbo Over/Under Set

Advanced Command Trainer, Pitching Pad, Target Pad, Connection Ball, Command Plate, Extreme Duty Weighted Balls

Resistance Tubing, Extreme Duty Weighted Balls, Mini-Medicine Balls, Connection Ball, Weighted Footballs

I hope the above listed products will at least give you a starting point for products that can help improve your weaknesses in order to make you a better athlete and, consequently, a better baseball player.

If you have any additional questions regarding your specific needs and what equipment would most benefit you, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Until next time,

Brian Oates