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How Pirates Catcher Russell Martin Uses MMA to Train for Pro Baseball

Back in the National League, Russell Martin tells us how mixed martial arts boosts his performance behind the plate. His new opponents better watch out.

Do you think working on power, endurance, and overall fitness, will help you to catch more games this season—and beyond?

You know, I’m going to catch as many games as I possibly can. Whenever my name is the lineup, I’ll be ready to play. If my name is in there 162 games and I’m capable of doing it, I’ll go out there and play. Am I going to be as productive if I play every game? Probably not. Over the years I’ve realized that sometimes less is more. You get to recover, and you’re just more explosive for your next game. I used to be hardheaded, just wanting to play all the way through, and then I’d get into September and have no gas left in the tank. The last couple of years, I’ve been getting more rest. I’m not sure about the exact statistics, but I think I hit half of my home runs last season on the days after I had a day off.

Do you think MMA training can help extend your career?

I feel so athletic that I believe I can play anywhere on the field. A lot of catchers tend to wear down and lose parts of their game, and that’s the battle that I’m going through right now—trying to defy those odds of age and get through that grind.

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