Spring is close and that means the start of baseball and softball season in certain parts of the country. No matter the age or skill level of the player or team, spring training is the time to sharpen the basic fundamentals and set a positive tone for the season.
Getting off to a good, productive start is crucial. Enter into the pre-season with these tips.
- Offseason - Strength training can go a long way in preventing fatigue during training and games. Even young players can benefit from technique work, agility drills, and bodyweight exercises before practices even start. If you dropped the ball and haven’t been to the gym all winter, you can still benefit from working on basic body weight movements and baseball drills now.
- First days of practice (pitchers and catchers) –Pitchers and catchers at the high school level or older should start practicing a few days before the infielders and outfielders join practice. Pitchers can work on throwing mechanics and pitcher-specific fielding practice. Catchers can do some extra squatting and leg work to prepare for the workload ahead and to help reduce soreness and discomfort when full-team practices begin.
- First days of practice (full team) - Don’t do too much too soon. All players, regardless of position, age, or skill level, should start slow and short. Don’t expect to throw at the distances and speeds you finished last season with. This can cause injury and at the very least unnecessary excessive soreness. The same goes with batting; starting at slower speeds will allow your eyes and coordination to readjust to game speeds.
- Beginning of each practice: Form good habits the very first day by beginning each practice with a proper warm up and stretching session. Even a few minutes can help to greatly reduce risk of injury and improve overall enjoyment of the sport.
Be smart and know how much time you or your players have had off over the winter. If most of your team participated in other sports during the offseason and generally stayed active, you may be able to pick up the baseball season at a slightly higher level than if you have been sitting on the couch all winter. Preventing injury now will help keep you or your team strong for the season ahead.