Volume 5, No. 1 - January 2010
Preparing for the Upcoming Season
These days, preparation for an upcoming baseball season is not as simple as playing catch or taking a few swings in the cage. Regardless of the level of play, one must first think about developing their fitness levels before focusing on sport-specific skills. For many kids, the demands of an entire season place a great deal of repetitive stress to one’s body. This is especially the case for those who play baseball all year round. By creating a fitness base through a specific conditioning program, a player will be able to perform their running, throwing and hitting skills more efficiently while being able to endure the physical challenges and demands asked of their body and arm. With a growing number of reported injuries, (especially with arm-related injuries), it makes perfect sense to introduce a routine at an early age rather than waiting for a player to reach junior high or high school.
Although our MVP Band program has proven to be a clinically effective method to improve arm strength in both the pre and regular season play, we also understand that aerobic exercise; core body strength and good balance is critical to the success of a well-rounded player. This, of course, is especially the case for pitchers. To begin a pre-season program, keep in mind that there really is no age minimum to get started, however, it is important to keep an eye on any weight bearing exercises that are performed by younger athletes. Through the use of a resistance band and some functional fitness exercises, you can achieve an incredible workout with out the worry of injury.
Before beginning any new pre-season conditioning program, it is important that the players are able follow directions/instructions in order to perform the exercises correctly. This is where age and focus issues come into play. Parents at the same time (especially with players 10 years of age and under) should understand the benefits and risks associated with the conditioning program. Due to individual differences in stress tolerance, the conditioning program needs to be carefully designed in a safe manner that allows each individual the ability to push him/herself to their own limitations to reduce the possibility of chronic repetitive stress placed on the musculoskeletal system.
WHEN SHOULD YOU START: At a minimum, we suggest a player begins developing and maintaining a solid fitness base at least 4-6 weeks prior to the start of their season. If a player can map out a game plan for their upcoming season through a calendar or log book, they tend to be more accountable. This is a good learning tool for any athlete.
Routine: Before a player even thinks about picking up a ball, and especially in the winter months, they must create a proper warm-up routine that will remain the same throughout the entire season. When the season begins, this routine will most likely be scaled back due to time constraints. Remember, a warm-up is designed to get the blood flowing to all areas of the body, not just your arm. This should consist of 5-10 minutes of light stretching, cardio and aerobic work followed by 5-10 minutes of a dynamic warm-up. Here is a sample of a Pre-season workout that we typically use for our MVP Band Baseball Boot camps:
Warm-ups (5-10 min.)
- Jumping Jacks
- Butt Kickers, Quick Feet (both running in place)
- Lunges, Hops
- Light Jog
- Side to Side Shuffle, Carioca (keeping shoulders square)
- Light Sprint
Dynamic Warm-up (5-10 min.)
- High knees
- Slow Walking Lunges, Skater Plyo's, Duck Walk
- Stationery Lunge with small hops on each leg
- Side Squat Shuffle
- Skip with big high arm reach/swings
- Core Twists with arm swings
- Backpedal (running backwards with good arm pushes)
- Hamstring Stretches/monster walks
Arm Conditioning Exercises (35-45 min.)
- Proper stretching
- Arm circles: 1-2 sets, wrist flexion and extension stretches
- Resistance Band Exercises (see mvpband.com)
- Light Toss with proper mechanics
- Long Toss with proper thrower mechanics
- Cool Down Band Exercises
Fitness/Strength/Cardio/Speed/Agility (10 min.)
- Stomach Crunches/Leg-Lifts/Scissors
- Tricep Dips/ Forward Push-Ups
- Wall Sit
- Lunge Balances
- Liners (typically used in basketball)
- Mountain Climbers
- Line Hops (front/back, side to side)
- Vertical Leaps
- Mini Hurdles and Agility Slalom (with cones)
- Jump Roping (1-2 minutes)
It is important for an athlete to understand that long-term success in any sport is built upon a strong foundation of fundamental fitness abilities. Although the exercises I have presented may not be the easiest to perform at first, encouragement from a coach, trainer or parent must reinforce that they will get easier as their fitness levels increase. Pre-season conditioning is a key element in building a necessary base to a long season. In building strength to all areas of your body, a player will see and feel a difference in their performance which will bring about a certain confidence level needed for their mental aspect of the game. Additionally and equally important, overall improvement to your baseline fitness will greatly reduce the potential for injury.
Looking to build arm strength as well as protect the most valuable asset on the field...your ARM?
The MVP Band and program is an official licensed product of Little League Baseball clinically tested and proven by the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) as an effective way to improve arm strength and velocity. For more information, visit www.mvpband.com