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Ian Desmond talks to Washington Post about IMG Training

Washington Nationals shortstop, Ian Desmond, has spent part of his offseason training at IMG Academy alongside other major leaguers looking to get a jump start to their 2011 season. Desmond is looking to continue to make improvements this year after winning the National's starting shortstop job during his rookie campaign. The Washington Post recently ran a story on Desmond where he spoke about the training he has done with IMG Academy.

From the Washington Post article:

"While Desmond's rookie year did not provide him a sense of security, he now knows what to expect from the grind of a full major league season. Before last year, because of hand injuries, Desmond had not played more than 118 games - majors or minors - in a season since 2007. Desmond shed 10 pounds over the course of last season. He did not feel tired at the end of last season, but he believes he could have been stronger.

He applied the lesson to his offseason preparation. For six weeks this winter, starting in January, Desmond trained at the IMG Academy in Bradenton. He fielded groundballs and took batting practice from 9 to 11 each morning and lifted weights four times a week. He injected purpose into each workout.

Ian Desmond training at IMG Academy

"It was very obvious, not only to the coaching staff but also to the players that were working around him, that he was out there completely focused," said Ken Bolek, IMG's baseball academy director. "In Ian's case, from the very first day he walked in, he was serious about his time each day."

Desmond worked closely with performance specialist Blaine Bott, whom he first met in 2006, when Bott worked as a trainer for the Class A Potomac Nationals. Bott outlined a plan for Desmond to lift more weights during the year, maintenance work with the intention to keep weight on and keep him fresh.

His strength and speed were not a problem. "Biomechanically," Bott said, "he's so athletic." So Bott focused on improving Desmond's flexibility. Between weightlifting sets, Desmond would strike yoga poses meant to stretch his hamstrings and hip flexors. The enhanced flexibility should help prevent injury and make it easier for Desmond to stay down while fielding groundballs.

"I spent a lot of time stretching, trying to make sure I'm stronger from the middle out," Desmond said. "In the past, it's always been about how you look when you come to spring training. I don't care how I look. This year, I feel like I'm built for go."

Desmond also concentrated on his mind-set. He wrote down goals for this season on a sheet of paper, and he would talk about them a few times a week with a mental conditioning coach. On Tuesday, he chose not to share those goals. "I guess in October I'll let you know if I reached them or not," Desmond said. "It's personal. I want to be better than I was last year, put it that way."

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