From youth leagues right up through high schools, tryouts for the upcoming baseball season will be taking place in February and March. If you haven’t already begun, now is the time for players and coaches to start preparation. Start conditioning easily and work those baseball muscles into shape gradually. DON’T make the mistake of throwing and swinging “all-out” immediately. In many cases, overexertion can result in injury. Here are some fall and wintertime tips I recommend before the weather breaks next spring:
Players should involve themselves in simple stretching exercises every day. Work those hamstrings and lower back muscles for the running you’ll do in the springtime. Take special care to loosen up arm and shoulder muscles. “Reach for the Sky,” “Swing your arms in Circles,” really get the blood flowing.
I don’t advise playing catch outside in less than 40-degree weather. Even then, exercise caution. Try to find gym time where players can toss and work on throwing and receiving mechanics. Don’t let the players “air it out” and throw hard in these early sessions. Pitchers can work on their form and mechanics, and throw easily using the “5 Steps of Pitching.”
The ideal is to secure indoor batting cage time, but there are easy drills that you can do right in your garage or basement. Have players start by just swinging the bat 10, 20, 30 times a day correctly. Make sure the swings are done correctly and with balance. No “chopping wood” or hacking when they get tired. Build up the repetitions over time. Soft toss wiffle golfballs or even more inexpensively, roll up white adhesive tape into balls and soft toss them. I’ve done this with high school players for 20 years. You get a great number of repetitions and you don’t break things.