Thursday, December 22, 2011

Think Spring Training

By Jim Bain

This time of year, as people look out their windows, most people enjoy the flickering Christmas lights and blow up animated scenes, swaying in the breeze and think of the upcoming Christmas holiday period, with its' presents and holiday cheer.

Some people gaze out their windows and see skinny lifeless trees, snow bound roads or leaves which were never raked, or were raked and now you have your neighbors. Fortunate or unfortunately, I fit well in the second scenario of people.

It's not that I'm a Scrooge, because I definitely am not. I enjoy the Holy part of Christmas, the presents and I can party with the best of them, but my heart is on the Baseball Diamond. That haggard desolate looking piece of dirt, rutted by kids riding their bikes through it when it muddy. That's where my life is spent during the warm summer months, on the battlefield between the white lines.

It's with these thoughts, and I'm sure I'm not the only one longing for baseball season to return, that I have set forth a few drills and exercises which players can begin utilizing in order to enter spring training physically fit, with improved skills and a sharp mind.

Tip 1# This should not even be a tip, but since the invention of video games and whatever other electronic devises I don't understand, seem to keep our youth sedated, we need to have a regular exercise program set up and adhered to.

Unless you're an athlete, at the appropriate age and educated guidance, such as a coach or well versed parent, it's not necessary to concentrate your exercise on one particular part of the body. One must remember, baseball is a combination of physical motions which include the entire body, so over training one specific muscle group could actually have adverse affects.

The key is to strengthen the body overall with a variety of exercises, not necessarily lifting weights, which strengthen and maintain flexibility. In other words come into camp ready to play ball, not to get ready to play ball.

Tip 2# It's a fact of life, a large portion of your power, whether it be pitching or hitting, originates with the explosion of the hips, which requires strong legs. I personally hated leg exercises, perhaps because bulging leg muscles don't impress girls like bulging biceps or six-pack abs, or I was just illiterate, but the legs must be strengthened during the off season.

My advise, if you don't like leg exercises, is to run, run and run some more. Running in combination with a few basic exercises with weights, such as squats and lunges, three times a week, will greatly help the leg strength.

Tip 3# Every baseball fan has at one time or another, dropped their jaw in amazement, witnessing an infielder making an absolutely spectacular fielding play, and wonder how in the world did he do that. I'll tell you how. He fielded, not hundreds, but thousands and thousands of ground balls. That's the Only way to improve fielding skills and hand speed.

Here is where a rubber or tennis ball becomes worth its weight in gold. During the winter months bounce and field as many ground balls as possible. If your home's basement is unfinished, or your garage is large enough, bounce the ball off the basement walls or garage wall everyday.

Never use a glove, train to catch bare handed and a glove will feel like using a vacuum. Bounce the ball at angles, different speeds and hops trying to force yourself to make difficult catches. The more accustomed you become to making difficult catches, the smoother and easier you'll be able to field the other 95% of chances.
Jim Bain, former Minor league baseball player, who since retiring has dedicated his life to teaching baseball to youth, shares his advice on pitching baseball drills on his exciting info packed website:
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1 comment:

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