Not every baseball/softball regimen has to be a constant repetition of hitting, throwing and catching. Although these are the main components to the game, there is more you can be doing to improve your results. A lot of athletes may overlook simple, yet effective, solutions to make their way towards the elite level.
Here are some of our favorites:
1. Hit the Gym & Do Some Lifts
No athletic training program is complete without some good old-fashioned gym work. However, don't think you're here for bodybuilding. You are here to build speed, control and strength. Focus on the mind/body connection and feel each repetition as you perform it. Some exercises we recommend are the following:
- Sprinter Starts: Start in a fully extended push-up position, then explode up to a 10-yard sprint. Drive your feet and use your arms for momentum. Rest 30 seconds and repeat for 5 reps.
- Goblet Squat: You’ll need a kettle bell or dumbbell. Hold the weight with two hands to your chest—like you’re about to drink from a big goblet. Squat with your hips back and down, and keep your weight on your heels. Do NOT lift your toes. Keep the weight to your chest and perform a squat. Explode up through the hips for 10 reps and 3-4 sets.
- Medicine Ball Rotational Throw: Stand in front of a sturdy wall, about 3 feet away and hold the medicine ball at waist level. Rotate your torso away from the wall, then powerfully rotate back, starting with your hips, followed by your torso and arms with the ball. Throw the ball at the wall and catch it with one hand under the ball and one behind it. Repeat for 10 reps, then switch sides.
2. Nutrition Matters
One of the most overlooked components for athletes is their nutrition. You need the proper macro and micro nutrients to replenish your body and recover. If possible, you should be eating 3 main meals a day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) with smaller snacks in between.
Not everyone wants to count calories or measure food, but if you can, be aware of what macro-nutrients you are getting. Aim for 40% of calories from protein, 40% from carbs and 20% from fats. As a general example, aim for 1-1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight. This is especially true if you spent a lot of time in the gym.
3. Practice in Front of a Mirror
It may sound obvious to some, or maybe even a little silly, but practicing your swing and form in front of a mirror can be a huge benefit. Muscle memory is an important part of developing sound techniques and by seeing yourself, you can point out and correct flaws. Once you have everything down, you can move on to tee work and eventually head to work in the cages.
4. Train Your Eyes to "Lock On"
Start training with balls with two different markings (e.g. shapes, letters, numbers) on the outside of them. The goal is to get in the batting cages and hit the balls marked with one of the above, while letting the balls with the second mark go by. The markings should be large enough to be visible as far away as the pitching machine/net. This activity is designed to train visual concentration while playing.
5. Practice Proper Equipment Care
As much as the sport is the player, it's also the equipment that player uses. It's important you keep that equipment in good working condition so that you can perform your best. This is especially true for your glove since it's made with leather. It's a good idea to keep your glove oiled and loose by using a quality glove oil such as Sarna's Premium Glove Oil.
Proper care ensures you never miss a play.
Above all else, work ethic is the most important. Young athletes should prepare anyway they can, whether this is physically or mentally. A good work ethic will get you further than any one tip or advice. Once achieved, you can go out and the play the game you know how, and have fun while doing it.
Need help breaking in your glove before the season starts? Check our Our Blog Post for the best tips to ensure you're ready!