Baseball and baseball conditioning have come a long way since Abner Doubleday invented the sport. In its early years it was enough just to play the game. Baseball fitness wasn’t a consideration. This was true right through the late 1950's when many professional ball players didn't consider year round baseball conditioning important to their success on the field. They may have been right because their competition felt the same way, baseball fitness wasn't important. The same was true in many youth leagues, schools, and universities; in many minds of that era fitness needed to play baseball consisted mostly of running. From there it was batting, fielding and pitching practice.
In the 1960's that began to change forever, especially on the professional level. The explosion in popularity of baseball was beginning and major league baseball was starting to become big business with big paychecks. As a result the players realized that staying fit was a year round part of their success. Just like taking rips in the batting cage or fielding grounders, their baseball conditioning was important to their success. Fortunately the schools and universities realized the same thing, and baseball conditioning programs began in earnest.
The majority of the early baseball fitness programs were solely based upon weight training. No thought was given to improving agility and speed. In fact the programs for this type of development hadn't been devised.
Today we know that to enjoy your sport at any level takes more than skill, it also takes sports fitness. Sport specific baseball conditioning can help any player, no matter the level of competition. That is what this section is all about, the basic sports specific conditioning of the baseball player.
The exercises we are about to talk about are by no means the only routines that can be used; however they are a good starting point. We will look at developing, power, strength, agility, and speed.
Let's start with Power. I define power as the quick and strong movement of the leg; starting from the hip, to the knee, and ending at the ankle. Power Lifts and Plyometrics help to develop these areas.
The Power Exercise Movements include: Jumps Squats, and Split Squat Jumps
The Plyometric exercises include: Box Jumps, Hurdle Jumps, Single leg box hops, Single leg hurdle hops, continuous box jumps, and continuous hurdle jumps. These exercises use the body's weight as resistance, in Lateral (east / west) and Linear (north / south) movements
Strength also includes strengthening your upper and lower body. The upper body exercises include: Bench press, push ups, pull ups, lat pull, shoulder raises, curls, extensions, and wrist rolls.
Next is Agility. Agility is the ability to change direction while running or moving. Sometimes we call agility "quickness." We've all been at a game and heard someone say, "that guy's quick." Quickness should not be confused with speed, it's related but it's not the same thing.
There a variety of agility drills that can be done, including: running around poles, working with an agility ladder (Icky shuffle, Ice skater), or even jumping over step hurdles.
The final aspect to consider is Speed. We've all heard the old saying, "Speed kills." In baseball speed does. It's one of the most important attributes of any ball player. Speed comes to play everyday, and speed never goes into a slump. The faster, and quicker you can become, the better all around baseball player and athlete you will become.
Speed exercises include: sled pulls, band runs, and hill runs.
I hope this article helps you get started on your baseball fitness program. I know if you use it you will improve not only your performance but also your enjoyment of the game.
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