Tim Kendall: Train Like a Baseball Pro
As the countdown to April 2 nd continues, I know a lot of baseball players are getting excited about heading back to the diamond. However, before you grab your cleats, bat and glove, there are some important exercises that pro, novice and recreational players should do to make sure they are in top physical form.
When it comes to workout regimes for baseball players, most focus on strength, agility or speed, or in some cases a variety of all three.
Strength training is particularly important when it comes to preventing injury, which often occurs due to muscle imbalance and fatigue. Muscle imbalances are caused naturally over time by the repetitive movements associated with playing sports. For example, batters swing the bat from one side, bases are ran in one direction, catchers catch with the same arm, the same with throwing, and the same foot is planted every time a player prepares to throw.
These repetitive movements lead to strength imbalances in the quads, hamstrings, forearms, chest, shoulders and back; if left uncorrected these imbalances can lead to injury, reduced power and weakness.
Baseball strength training is a key component in building explosive power too. While baseball games can stretch over several hours the movement happens in short, explosive bursts, which when done consistently can lead to fatigue and exhaustion.
For players looking to strength train here are few exercises to add to your routine.
Plyo Pushups - In standard push-up position, place hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart and keep feet together. Keeping the back flat, the body is slowly lower toward the ground. Then in one explosive movement, push-up and away from the floor as quickly as possible, bringing your hands off the floor (a clap is often performed). Land with hands back in original position and repeat.
Rotational Medicine Ball Throws – Holding the ball stand facing wall, with feet shoulder width apart. With both hands, bring med ball to right side of body, in one motion rotate the torso and throw ball toward the wall. Catch ball and repeat for both sides of body.
Speed & Agility
Often paired together, speed and agility is also crucial for a well-rounded player. In the fraction of a second it takes for a player to decide to throw a ball, a swift and agile player can steal a base or even slide into home.
Speed and agility training drills are designed to target and work all the leg and core muscles, as well as tendons. While strength training is about building and fortifying muscle, agility training is all about becoming quicker and more agile, which means exercises need to be performed with the same intensity that is used on the field.
By training with the same game intensity that is displayed during a regular game players can increase their performance and minimize the risk injury.
Remember for best results it is crucial to work at improving all aspects of your game, strength, agility, speed, endurance and stamina are all equally important when it comes to building well-rounded team players.