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Dustin Pedroia's Most Valuable Advice

Eric Kilby / flickr

In a clubhouse full of grizzled vets and cocksure athletes such as slugger David “Big Papi” Ortiz and flamethrower Josh Beckett, it’s Boston Red Sox infielder Dustin Pedroia who shows the most swagger.

The 5-foot-9, 165-pound second baseman belted in 17 home runs this year while becoming just the third Sox player to accumulate both 200 hits and 50 doubles in a single season. He’s in good company, alongside Hall of Famers Wade Boggs (1989) and Tris Speaker (1912). And his performance earned him the American League MVP award.

So much for the stereotype of the slap-hitting infielder who makes his living solely on defense, relying on the big guys to handle the heavy lifting.

To survive as a smaller player in Major League Baseball, and more importantly, stand out among bigger, stronger players, and do it all under the intense media spotlight of Boston, it takes a combination of mental and physical strength.

Use Dustin Pedroia's secrets to come up big when it matters most.

1. Pack strength into every pound of body weight.

Small guys often try to increase size at any expense. The Red Sox media guide lists Pedroia at 180 pounds and he’s weighed even more. But during the winter of 2006-07, he trained at Athletes’ Performance for the first time and lost 25 pounds of fat. Then he added weight in the form of lean mass and now is proud to say he weighs only a “solid buck-sixty five.” “I’ve gotten wiry strong,” he says. “Sometimes if you have additional weight, it’s bad weight.

Big-league tip: Time your meals to pack on strength, not fat.

2. Surround yourself with talent.

Pedroia trains in the winter alongside two other star second basemen: Chase Utley of the Phillies and the Orioles Brian Roberts, who like Pedroia, stands 5-9. As a smaller athlete, Pedroia considers himself quick and agile, at least until he watches another member of his training group – speedy Carl Crawford of the Tampa Bay Rays. “I watch C.C. fly through agility drills and it’s like he doesn’t break a sweat,” Pedroia says. “You think you’re pretty good and then you see someone like that and realize how much harder you have to work. That’s great motivation.”

Big-league tip: To improve your reaction time, position yourself like a pro in the field.

3. Don’t back down.

Pedroia’s training group often works alongside some of the top NFL prospects training for the annual scouting Combine, some of whom outweigh Pedroia by more than 100 pounds. Pedroia is known to raise his T-shirt and call for a “mandatory ab check” and argues that pound for pound, he's the strongest guy in the room. “I’m just joking, but you have to be confident in your ability and work ethic if you’re going to succeed,” he says.

Big-league tip: To boost confidence, know your competition.

4. Work on your weaknesses.

Relying on your strengths will only get you so far, especially when you’re smaller in stature. “At my size, I have to swing with all I’ve got,” he says. “I use my whole body. I’m not just a rotational guy.”

Big-league tip: Train to increase not only strength and size, but also to boost power.

5. Prepare yourself for the long haul.

The tough off-season work pays dividends at the end of a 162-game marathon, especially when you play for the Red Sox, a perennial playoff participant. “Your body takes a beating this time of year. Guys that don’t work hard in the off-season are dead at this point, but I still feel great.”

Big-league tip: Eat clean and train consistently to perform great through the ages.

About The Author

Pete Williams – Pete Williams is a contributing writer for CorePerformance.com and the co-author of the Core Performance book series.

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Tags: Sports Performance, Baseball