As coaches, we are trying to improve all the phases of our athlete’s sport. There are so many ideas out there on how to increase your abilities, but which one’s should we use? Throughout my years of playing the sport, I have seen just about every strategy of training that “could” improve your game. There have been J-Bands, weighted balls and footballs for increasing throwing strength. I can’t remember how many miles I ran for endurance, but I think our coach just loved to watch us suffer. What I really loved and still do, was running with weighted jackets and bands.
There are a ton of ways you can develop players, and it does not have to be done inside of a weight room. These tests are designed for you as the coach to see where your players are at in their development and where they need to improve. You can even use these tests to find young talent, pick players for your team, plan your strength and conditioning program and spot out who may be at risk of injury. I suggest performing these tests in the preseason, midseason and off season.
5 Fitness Tests for Baseball and Softball Player’s
1. Throwing Distance
There are different ways you can test players on throwing distance. I bet you are thinking, “just playing catch for a long distance”. Sure we could do that, but does that simulate what they are doing during the game. For infielders, have them go to their position and feed them 3 balls right to them and they throw to first. The next 6 you feed in a couple of steps on their glove and hand side and they throw it to first. The last 6 you feed it to where they have to dive for and they pop up and throw it to first. If you want to see where to people may fit at a certain position or you are having trouble finding a position for someone this test is will help make up your mind. For outfielders, this test is going to involve 3 fly balls and 3 ground balls right to them so they can take a hard crow hop and they throw to home. Next you are going hit 3 fly balls and ground balls a couple of steps and they throw home. The last 3 you are going to hit the balls in the gaps so they have to chase it down. When doing these tests, you want this to be as game like as possible (100% effort). If this means having base runners out there, go ahead and do that.
2. Medicine Ball Throwing
Core strength is crucial in baseball. The core helps provide stability, strength and torque when we throw and hit. If we are lacking core strength this could lead to a number of injuries. Medicine ball throwing can involve baseball size weighted balls, bouncy stability balls or big sand balls. Medicine ball training with bouncy balls provides athletes with forward, lateral and backwards strengthening. Ball slams, two-handed throws, straight arm lateral throws and lateral chest presses simulate the movements that are used in baseball.
3. Standing Long Jump
The standing long jump tests a player’s leg power. This test involves you standing shoulder width apart. You want to do a partial squat, load your arms back, tuck your head down. When you begin to explode drive your arms as fast you can forward and you want to fly forward in a line drive and not too high off the floor. Perform this test 3 times and track the farthest jump.
T-Test is my favorite agility test, as baseball is such an agile sport. This test involves sprinting, shuffling and backwards running. For you base runners out there, do you have a powerful shuffle? This test can help you improve your base stealing abilities.
How to set up this drill is:
1. Set up a Cone A 10 yards in front of you
2. Set up Cone B 5 yards to the right of Cone A
3. Set Up Cone C 5 yards to the left of Cone A
How to Perform the Test:
1. Sprint to Cone A
2. Shuffle to Cone B and touch with your right hand
3. Shuffle from Cone B to Cone C and touch with your left hand
4. Shuffle from Cone B to Cone A
5. Back peddle from Cone A back to the finish line
Baserunning can be done during the throwing distance test. Make it situations for both the hitters and the fielders. Have a runner start from home and as soon as the ball is hit, the runner busts his/her butt down the line or around the bases as hard as they can. Another great test is having your runners start from home and run all around the bases as fast as they can. Perform the test 3 times with breaks in between. I find it helpful to have 2 people timing the runner.
Developing players can be very challenging. It takes time and effort in order to get build a strong athlete. Make sure when you are properly warmed up so the chances of injuries are limited. It is crucial as athletes that we need to develop all the skills that are needed. As coaches, we need to know how to develop players effective and as safe as possible.