Baseball Reflections

Baseball, More Than the Fundamentals

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Recently, I was asked to evaluate players for a 13-year-old travel baseball tryout. I was surprisingly impressed and disappointed at the same time. Impressed with the baseball skills that many of the young players displayed, but disappointed with the athleticism of a majority of the kids. Many of the players had good baseball fundamentals, but their lack of speed, agility, power, and fast twitch actions were very much lacking. It is one thing to be able to swing the bat, field the ball and throw the ball correctly, but being able to do them with speed, quickness and power requires above average athleticism.


There may have been a time back in the day where baseball players did not have to be great athletes, but those days are long past. My point is made by watching my favorite part of ESPN SportsCenter, the nightly web gems, where great athleticism is consistently on display. With that in mind, following are some things that youth players can work on to gain the athleticism, speed, and power to improve.


1. Much throwing speed and hitting power, along with control comes from the forearms, hands, wrists, and fingers. Players of all ages should work the muscles in these areas by squeezing things. There are many useful items on the market designed to help but just squeezing a tennis ball, or water out of a towel, will work just as well. Doing this a few minutes a day will develop the strength to make a difference with how the ball “jumps off the bat” and comes out of the hand.

2. Strong core muscles in the midsection are necessary for all baseball actions and are developed with fast hip turns, while holding weighted object like a medicine ball. Gradual increases in weight develop this core strength.

3. Most of the time we think of running exercises only for pitchers and base running. However, working on fast crossover steps and explosive first moves of the lower body are just as important for hitting power, fielding quickness, range and arm speed. The muscles around the thighs and rear end generate most of the power for hitting and throwing, so working on explosive crossover steps as with stealing a base, can be very useful to gain speed and power. As players reach the junior high level, weight lifting of the lower half can begin, also.

4. Old fashioned exercises like pushups, sit-ups, jump rope and running steps (for footwork and agility) are great strengthening tools for any age player and the earlier players begin these the better.


Now more than ever, baseball is a game of bigger, stronger, and faster, if players want to move up the baseball ladder.

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