While football season has taken hold of the sports world, one Little Leaguer’s Backyard Tip shows how children can use a different sport to become a better baseball player.

Josh Zuehlsdorff, a member of the 2014 Little League Baseball® West Region Champions from Mountain Ridge Little League (MRLL) in Las Vegas, says throwing the football around with his friends and parents has made him better on the diamond.

At the 2014 Little League Baseball® World Series in South Williamsport, several of MRLL players were seen flinging the football in the outfield of Lamade Stadium before their games. Thanks to the inspiration of Josh and his dad, Bob, and the time they spent together in their backyard, the team took up the cross-training drill to work different muscle groups, improve their arm strength and have some fun.

Throughout the regular season and tournament season, Josh saw time in the outfield, infield and on the mound, so his overall flexibility and athleticism was critical to his health and success. In their spare time, Josh and his dad enjoy throwing the football around, and both soon discovered that while they were running “go” routes, button hooks and crossing patterns, Josh’s whole body was getting a total workout along with improving his accuracy and arm strength.

Josh took the training idea to his coaches and a football soon found its way into his team’s equipment bag.

arm strength

Warm Up the muscles by stretching your arm and shoulder before you get into throwing. Start close (to your partner) and work further apart as you get loose.

Using a standard-size, junior football, start with 15-to-20 throws to your partner. With each throw, Josh and his teammates concentrated on the spin of the ball. The point of the football should be aimed at the chest of your partner. Focus on the throw being on target, more than throwing the ball hard.

Tossing around the football made warmups more fun, and also adds measured throwing activity that works different muscle groups and conditions the whole body. Josh and his dad noticed these improvements when he got back on the baseball field. His coaches and teammates noticed too, and quickly became believers that adding the football drill into the mix works well as an exercise to stretch, strengthen, and condition their arms.

Josh’s football throwing drill offers a simple, yet fantastic opportunity for parents to spend some quality, fun time with their Little Leaguer®, and is a perfect example of how exploring other sports and activities can help on the baseball field.