Many people would like to believe they can show up on baseball’s opening day and simply run out on the field and play. Although players may feel as if they are in-shape and conditioned, there is a certain amount of preparation that must be done during the off-season in order to be effective when the season begins.
Here are a few tips to get your game ready for the start of the upcoming season.
Conditioning is King
Baseball does not require an athlete to be as conditioned as in some other sports, namely basketball and football, but conditioning cannot be overlooked. There will be much sunshine beating down on those 85-degree days during the summer, adding to the grind of standing through long innings and sprinting at the crack of the bat.
Pitchers and catchers will find conditioning even more critical, throw after throw, wearing heavy gear, and constantly crouching. However, the seventieth pitch needs to be as effective as the first one.
Depending on the position, there are a vast number of drills on which to work.
- Infielders can get their footwork in order and learn to keep the glove pointed down when charging a ground ball.
- Outfielders can work on shielding the sun with the glove and catching a fly ball at an angle away from the blinding light, learning how to fight through the situation to get the out on a hot, sunny day.
- All players need to be on a throwing program a few days a week heading into the season, warming up at a 60-foot distance, increasing to 90, and back to 60-feet for approximately 5 minutes each.
Some mild soreness may occur, but should be considered normal in getting back into playing shape. Obviously, continued soreness should be examined by a doctor.
Study the Fundamentals
In most parts of the country, it is difficult at best to do anything baseball-related outside until closer to springtime, but all winter long, players can remain students of the game.
Books on baseball strategy can be found at any local bookstore. Ideas for improving techniques can also be found this way along with instructional videos on various Internet sites.
Studying the fundamentals will help slow down the game on the field, because having this knowledge makes it easier to act on instinct and spend less critical seconds thinking about a play as it develops.
Rodney Baker has coached many youth baseball teams, scouted professionally, and is currently an assistant coach with Grossmont College (CC) near San Diego, California.