OK so your season is cancelled, your gym is closed —so what to do? WORK OUT ANYWAY.
So why talk fitness during a pandemic – because kids are SITTING around – build up some muscles and be ready for the SPRING. Also remind them about nutrition – NO SOFT DRINKS, NO CANDY BARS, Just say NO. Limit sugar as much as possible – they won’t die and they’ll be better ballplayers.
It turns out that there are certain muscle groups that help a LOT in baseball.
Check out that books have been written on exercise just for baseball.
or web sites
Take the average kid who says they are in shape and have them hold a plank. That’s like a pushup except you just stay and hold. 30 seconds is OK, 60 is good, 90 is excellent and 120 is fabulous. Most 8-12 years old start moaning at 30 and can barely do 45. They can force them selves to do 60. Why is this? It’s their core muscles are just sad. In baseball, core is everything. Hitting is done with the core, throwing, you got it the CORE.
So they say “OH LOOK< that KID has a GOOD ARM” — why is that? Usually its because they are strong. When you talk to these kids its “Oh yeah my dad pitched in college”. Well what happened there – well he has a combination of DNA and workouts. You talk to the kid and he’s like OH YEAH my dad has me do 50 pushups a day. HMMM. So that means its not MAGIC that you can throw or LUCK.
So DNA is part of it, amount of fast twitch muscle fiber varies in various people and amount of big muscles varies too – but you can work on it. You probably can’t take the average kid who can’t throw and get them bringing it at 80 MPH when they are 12, but you can take someone who can’t throw hardly at all and make them half decent.
Also, strength and conditioning impacts readiness on the field. Imagine, a hot game in the summer — it’s the 6th inning, kids are looking anywhere but at the pitch – why? They are TIRED. Concentration goes away when you are tired – the number of just crazy, missed the ball as it rolled between your lets errors skyrockets in the late innings.
So ADD a strength and conditioning station to your practice. Come up with a couple of exercises and have an adult lead – this is nice as some teams have moms or dads who know zippy about baseball and you just can’t bring yourself to have them come near a kid when you want they to teach maybe a little about hitting, but they can make great strength and conditioning coaches. And they are so happy to be involved.
Lets do some drills in these blogs and see if you can incorporate them and make them fun for kids. Every practice I start with a warmups of
- Jumping jacks – 30 for 12-year-olds that increase to 50 as the season goes on.
- Touch the ground and hold with feet wide
- Right leg over left and touch toes, and switch
- Right leg raised above hip and knee bent
- Right leg back and grab toes with knee bent
- Big arm circles 10 forward and 10 back
- Little arm circles
- Right arm across body and pull, switch
- Right arm back –tricep stretch, elbow bend, grab elbow and push back over head
I end with jump squats -get down in jump squat position into a catchers crouch and I say UP and they jump and go back into a squat.
This is just a 5 minute warmup – it sets the stage for class – gets everyone focused and the players know it’ll be the same every time. No one messes around, we count together, we stand on a line and it sets the tone that we know what we are doing. And guess, what, we do it in a game too. So we look like we know what we are doing at a game. And we are all warmed up and we do this BEFORE we throw. Throwing is NOT warming up, THROWING is an act of a lot of muscles working together – lets get them loose before we throw. For young kids it doesn’t matter but as they get older, it’s a good habit to get into. We get energy from the warmup – we count loud – each rep or clap at the end and you can tell after a couple of games if you have a great team because the warmup will be crisp and it’ll bring energy.
The next few blogs I’ll give you good baseball exercises that you can try or encourage your kids to do. I don’t believe in weights before they are 13, but there’s plenty you can do without weights and don’t just assume that your kid looks like they are in shape that they have the muscles they need.