Baseball is America’s greatest past time, but it is also tough on the body. In fact, it is the second most popular youth sport in the United States with over 500,000 participants each year. It requires athletes to have power, speed, mobility, explosiveness, consistency, among many other attributes. Due to the complexity of skills required, think about the hours he or she (softball requires very similar skills) will spend training, the countless hours in the gym and multiple visits to a physical therapist for injuries. This demands a lot from an athlete: intense training, hours in the gym, and a physical therapist for injuries. This requires a proper baseball strength training and a proper softball strength training regimen.
A proper baseball strength training can provide a lot of these demands and hopefully keep the physical therapist away (we love our PTs at COR, but trust us, you want to stay healthy 🙂 [if you are having elbow pain or have had Tommy John Surgery, read here].
10 Must Add Things in a Baseball Strength Training Program
- Working the muscles around the shoulders is crucial. It prevents injuries and muscle imbalance, baseball is a heavy overhead sport which makes athletes prone to rotator cuff injuries. If the shoulder blade muscles are not functioning at their best, then it will increase the stress on the rotator cuff muscles and ulnar collateral ligament (Tommy John Ligament). Shoulder usage in pitchers is a no-brainer, throwing a ball at a high velocity requires tremendous strength and stability in the shoulders.
2. Core (All planes)
- The core is the link between your lower and upper body. It can either transfer power from your lower body or it will lose it. A strong core allows the power to be transitioned from the lower half to reach the arms when throwing or to the bat when swinging. Having a strong core increases your balance and helps decrease your chance of injury. A weak core results in an energy leak, reducing baseball performance (throwing and hitting) as well as overstressing other areas.
3. Rotational Power
- When playing baseball, whether you are throwing, hitting or catching, it requires the body to move in multiple planes of motion. Power allows you to make quick transitions, whether to a ball or through accelerating/changing directions around a fielder. If you are quick to rotate you can easily maneuver your body to whichever direction the ball is going.
4. Glute/ Hamstrings Strengthening
- The towel reverse lunge with lateral lunge activates the glutes and hamstrings. It increases stability and flexibility in the lower body region. Lunges help the athlete develop leg power which will benefit them when they need to sprint and jump high. Proper hamstrings strength also prevents the common hamstrings strain in baseball players.
5. Hand-Eye Coordination
- Hand-eye coordination for this sport feels like a no-brainer. In order to be successful, you need to be able to hit and catch. It’s something we used to practice as kids without even realizing. For instance, playing catch as a child helped hone these skills. In order to increase your hand-eye coordination, take a ball and throw it against a wall and try to catch it with one hand. There are many ways to progress hand-eye coordination, but working with multi-directional balls and standing on variable surfaces can further enhance hand-eye coordination.
6. Body Timing (Everything working together)
- As noted before, baseball or softball is an all-body sport. This means that your body needs to be in sync as a whole. You need to be able to sprint to the ball, catch it and be able to get up to throw it within a few seconds. Think about batting. Your body needs to prepare for the amount of force it takes to hit the ball in a certain direction, and you need to drop the bat and sprint to the base before the ball gets there.
7. Speed and Agility
- Agility is the ability to move quickly and easily in multiple directions. Speed is to get from point A to point B. Speed and agility are important in baseball from both an infield and an outfield standpoint. Outfielders need to be able to get to the ball, wherever it flys. Infielders must have the agility to get to a ball that goes in any direction and react to any bumps on the ground.
- Most movements in this sport are in short bursts. Swinging a bat, catching a fly ball, throwing a ball to the base. These actions are all less than 10 seconds. The movements are short, but for hours your body has to be ready to move within seconds. Therefore, working on explosiveness like a high jump is key.
- Consistency in sports is the main factor that separates a good athlete from a great one. One week you may be hitting home runs, but the next week you can’t hit a ball once. If you go into a game not knowing which it will be for that weak, you’ll probably have a pretty angry team. It can get tiring, training day in and day out, but that is how you become consistent in your abilities. If you try here and there you will never know what your full potential is. Be consistently prepared to give it your best shot at each practice, training session and on the field.
10. Mechanical and Mental
- Mechanically, think about the movement of your body when playing baseball. When you are batting, you don’t stand stagnant, naturally, your body rotates to different planes. Your hips turn counterclockwise if you are right-handed and your arms extend. When preparing for the hit, your hips actually go clockwise first. Think about what your legs are doing, where does that power transfer? Mentally, it is important for an athlete because they need to be able to manage their own performance. Working on mechanics is mandatory at actual baseball practice. However, baseball strength training can sometimes connect the dots to help with understanding the correct movements for sports success in baseball.
Baseball or softball players are required to have a lot of focus, explosive power, agility, a tremendous amount of hand and eye coordination among other qualities. Strength training helps these types of athletes when done properly. Athletes should avoid overworking one muscle group because this is a full-body sport. These types of exercises build muscle, increases your balance due to its emphasis on the core and legs. Working on all areas of your body will help you become a great, well-rounded athlete. Especially, in this sport where it requires your body to multi-task. Also, here are a few more exercises to do with baseball players.