After a winter of inactivity often occasioned by bad weather, the one- to two-month period before baseball season begins is a great time to get your child in better physical shape. Start with stretching, aerobic exercise and strength-training at least two or three days a week, working up to five days by the time the season starts. It is also a good idea to visit the pediatrician for a complete physical before the season gets underway.
Gently stretching the largest muscle groups is important to help protect them from injury. Focus on the neck, shoulders, legs and torso, incorporating such exercises as lunges and neck rolls. For aerobic conditioning, biking, jogging and jumping rope are good choices; working up to a 30-minute daily run is a reachable goal. Your child should only use weights if age-appropriate and only under supervision from someone trained in their proper use. Other strength-training options include sit-ups, crunches, push-ups and deep knee bends.
After a week or two, your child can add drills specifically to improve baseball skills while continuing the other activities. Ideally, a trained coach can watch your child working on his or her skills and let you know if there are any problems with form that can be corrected before they potentially cause injury.
The baseball drills can include throwing (first short tosses, then greater distances and working on accuracy, then adding speed to the throws after a couple of weeks), hitting and running. Your child can work up to a stress-and-recover pattern: one day of throwing harder, hitting further and running faster followed by two days of easier workouts, then repeating the one-day-hard, two-day-easier cycle.
Because running in baseball involves fast runs over short distances, your young player’s hard-day training can include running 40 yards fast, then recovering, and running another 40 yards. Repeating this exercise on the “hard days” until the legs become tired should increase your child’s stamina once the season starts.
If you are unsure which exercises are suitable for your child, please contact us and we can direct you to the appropriate strengthening and conditioning specialist in the area.