Updated: May 19, 2020
A few tips to get back to baseball shape after a long hiatus
If you’re like most players right now, you’re probably full of anxiety and excitement as we wait to hear the two words that were once taken for granted: Play Ball!!
Though we’re not there yet, we can’t help but to get excited at the possibility of competing and playing the game we love. But, before we get there, we’ll need to re-prepare our bodies for the road ahead. The last thing you need is an injury your first time out because your body was not yet ready for the wear and tear of the everyday grind.
Before the world came to a screeching halt, you were wrapping up your off-season training in preparation for your greatest season to date. If your training was effective (like 360’s off-season pitching and hitting labs 😉), then you made some great strides, set some new PR’s and were well on your way to dominating the 2020 season.
“The greatest oak was once a little nut who held its ground”. Perseverance in the face of adversity is what sets the elite apart. Hopefully you’ve been taking advantage of this time off and using it as an opportunity to improve your skills, get stronger, get one step quicker or improving your mental toughness.
Whatever it is, or wasn’t, you now have no choice but to re-prepare for the season ahead. Whether you’re a youth athlete, a high schooler getting ready for the travel circuit or a college athlete prepping for summer leagues, you’ll need to ramp back up before performing.
Here are a few tips to re-preparing your body for your best season to date:
Sprints!! - with little to no access to a gym or indoor facility, it is very easy to fall into bad habits. It is scientifically proven that after 3-weeks of inactivity, an athlete will begin to lose 1/3 of their strength. Running sprints is proven to be the closest form of exercising to lifting weights due to its force production. Running hill sprints is especially beneficial as it will help you run in the correct form of acceleration and improve force application. Make sure you’re resting 60 seconds for every 10 yards covered.
Regain hip mobility - These times have opened the doors to an enormous amount of Fortnite and Call of Duty. I’m also a victim. The added time on our backsides can lead to significant mobility issues and worse, can further lead to injury. Here’s a solid mobility routine to loosen those hips by Simone Baseball Performance.
Ease into your throwing. This goes for all players, not just pitchers. This mistake is made every year on a normal basis with kids returning to throw at game speed way too soon. Imagine the potential for injury after taking off an additional 3+ months! If you haven’t been on a normal throwing routine (at least 3 days/week), try this:
Before we get started, it’s important that we have a proper warm-up routine. I won’t go into full depth about this but your pre and post throwing routine should consist of some kind of mobility/active/tubing/explosive work built in.
“Take your arm for a walk” - Just like any living organism, your arm wants to stretch out and build strength through repetition. Throwing to your max distance with as little stress on the arm is a great way to do so. Make sure that as you make your way out, you are throwing the ball with more of an arc to relieve the stress in the elbow.
“Listen to your arm” - The amount of throws at max distance is completely up to you and your arm. We’re not trying to blow the gasket here but we’re also looking to push the limits a bit. Usually 10-20 throws at max distance is fine depending on the day. There will even be days where you won’t make it to your max distance. That’s ok! Don’t panic! It’s just your arm reacting to time off. Now if you feel pain, then that’s a different story and probably a time where you need to see a doc.
After rebuilding your arm strength for about 2 weeks, you can begin to add in pull-down throws at the end of your long-toss. One pull-down per 10 feet is usually a safe measure of amount of throws. Once you get to about 60 feet, pitchers should throw a few fastballs in their delivery, infielders should go through a phantom ground ball with proper foot-work and throw as if they’re making a throw to first, outfielders should add a pro-step here to mimic a throw from the outfield and catchers should throw from the squat position. This allows the body and arm to go through more of a game like transition before field work.
Hitters - Simple, swing!! Swing as much as possible and as close to live pitching as possible. The hardest skill for a hitter to gain back after a long hiatus is their timing. Hitting against machines or a live pitcher is the best way to get your timing back.
So there you have it. Just a few tips on how to re-prepare your body for competition this summer and fall. There’s much more that goes into this, enough to write a book on. Again, this is assuming you had a solid off-season program and you were just about ready and prepared for the season before we were forced to stay in. This is a great foundation to get you on your way with little to no equipment. Make sure you are properly warming up and cooling down after you're done. Thanks for taking the time to read and until next time, this was #TuesdayThoughts.