By STEVE KRAH
Tim Rodmaker is in the business of making baseball players stronger, more agile and just plain physically better.
A strength and conditioning coach in the Chicago White Sox system since the 2006 season, Rodmaker looks to exploit athlete’s strengths while improving upon their weaknesses.
“It’s important for guys to use what they’re good at,” says Rodmaker, a native of Georgetown in Floyd County, Ind. “But you can’t forget about the things you’re not good at.”
Just because a guy can lift every weight at the gym doesn’t mean he skips cardio or vice versa.
“It comes down to knowing the individual you’re working with,” says Rodmaker, who will be back with the Double-A Birmingham (Ala.) Barons for the 2019 regular season. “Some guys need actual strength and some agility. Then there’s nutrition and mobility work. I tailor a plan that fits them specifically.”
Rodmaker, a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist with the National Strength and Conditioning Association, does this be observing and then consulting with the player.
“I can make some notes myself where improvements can be made and where they’re doing a good job,” says Rodmaker. “But I want to hear from them. Who knows themselves better than they do?”
Rodmaker also welcomes input from managers, coaches and roving instructors.
Once a plan is formed, Rodmaker and the player go forward with it. To make it work, the athlete must be committed to it.
There are specific skill sets and strength and conditioning needs for baseball players, depending on their role. It might be third baseman or relief pitcher or designated hitter.
“These guys have the luxury that they to need to train for this one specific thing,” says Rodmaker. “It can’t get any more focused than it is.”
All of them will be asked to achieve a range of motion and strength in that motion that relates to their position.
“They will attack the movement chain,” says Rodmaker. “The game is played in short bursts of usually no more than 10 seconds. But a game could last 2 1/2 hours (and the minor league regular season lasts for 140 games).”
For this reason, a balance must be struck between aerobic and anaerobic conditioning.
A typical day when the Barons are at home is a long one for Rodmaker.
With a 7:05 p.m. game time, he gets to the ballpark around 11 a.m. to get his own workout in and begin preparing for the arrival of players.
Most players in the White Sox system prefer to lift before the game and that begins around 1 p.m. Stretching for pitchers and position players is at 3:30. Pitchers do conditioning work during batting practice.
After a pre-game meal, starting pitchers will work out under Rodmaker’s supervision.
Pre-game routines start around 6:40.
“By Double-A, they have ownership of a pre-game routine,” says Rodmaker. “But, if necessary, I will lead it.”
During the game, the strength and conditioning coach is back in observation mode.
“I see if what we’re doing is paying off,” says Rodmaker.
Some players will choose to lift after the game. At this point, it’s 11:30 or midnight.
On the road, the schedule is condensed. The team usually finds a local gym for a 10 a.m. workout.
Rodmaker, who is active with the Professional Baseball Strength & Conditioning Coaches Society, spoke at the 2019 Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association State Clinic in Indianapolis. His topic was “Strength and Conditioning On a Budget.”
While even teams at the professional level think about financial constraints, it’s the time limitations that Rodmaker focuses on.
He says to focus on the big movements that will give the athlete the most bang for their buck.
These exercises require no equipment at all.
“They can show up at the park and do this stuff,” says Rodmaker.
He has also found that he does not like to use cones when doing agility work.
“Guys don’t respect cones,” says Rodmaker. “They can use their glove or mitt or hat. They will take care not to step on that.”
Rodmaker is a 2000 graduate of Floyd Central High School, where he was in wrestling for four seasons (making it as far as regional) and baseball for one season. He graduated from Indiana University in 2005, earning a B.S. in Exercise Science with a minor in psychology and a certificate from the Kelly School of Business.
Besides baseball, where he has served as a trainer in Bristol, Great Falls, Kannapolis and Winston-Salem prior to Birmingham, he has worked in the off-season with Baseball Europe and the U.S. Paralympic Alpine Ski team. He has also helped at the University of Louisville, Bellarmine University and Spalding University.
Tim and Alex Rodmaker reside in Georgetown with their three daughters — Eli (3), Frankie (2) and Von (9 months).
STRENGTH AND CONDITIONIONG ON A BUDGET
Tim Rodmaker, Strength & Conditioning Coach for the Birmingham Barons (Chicago White Sox Double-A Affiliate)
• Jog lap around the warning track (build up sprints and the end of stretch).
• Shuffle, side-to-side.
• Skip, forward, backward, side-to-side.
• Backpedal (with change of direction.
• Ankle circles (both directions).
• Lunge (with reach to the sky paired with (straight front leg) triangle pose.
• Up, Down and Around (both directions).
• Side-to-side (wide stance).
• Squat and reach (with twist).
• Knees to chest (marching).
• Quad stretch (with reach).
• Arm circles (small/big, both directions).
• Pec stretch (ALL angles).
• Internal/external rotation at 90/90 (walk a lap after practice, then speak to group).
Goal – Increase confidence and ability to run on edges of feet/lateral lean/maintaining speed.
Goal – Change of direction, body awareness, energy absorption and redirection.
• Juggling solo or with partner.
• Sample workout.
• Split squats.
• Rotational lateral lunge.
• Split stance RDL.
• Squat jump with 1/4 or 1/2 twist.
• Push-ups/Cobra Push-ups/Pike Push-ups.
• Walkout to plank.
• Plank with touches.
• Arm walk.
• Pro/Re-traction Push-ups.
Tim Rodmaker, a graduate of Floyd Central High School in Floyds Knobs, Ind., and Indiana University has been a strength and conditioning coach in the Chicago White Sox system since the 2006 season.