Push-ups are a great way for baseball coaches to help their athletes improve strength in pitching, throwing, and batting. All of these moves require tremendous upper body strength, and push-ups help with several large muscle groups-the back, chest, and arms. A comparable exercise in a weight room would be the bench press, because it also works the chest and arms, so if you have a chance to supplement your non-weight work-outs with drills in a weight room, you can focus on bench press as a way to get the same results as push-ups.
Push-ups are one of the easiest non-weight drills for a team to perform, but they are also one of the most important. There are three types of push-up drills for you to choose between and they are good to use in little league baseball training. All will work the basic muscles used in push-ups, the pectorals, biceps, triceps, and dorsals, but in different ways. Using the same muscles in new ways is a great technique for increasing strength without spending a lot of time doing repetitions and adding weight.
As with all push-ups, coaches should ensure that athletes take their arms out far enough to the sides that when they lower themselves all the way down, the arms make a 90 degree angle. The ideal arm position is different for each athlete, so work with each to teach them their target position. Coaches should watch that during exercises, athletes do not let their lower backs drop down too far. This takes the weight off the arms and puts it on the legs, giving an improper workout to the arms. Athletes also often let their bottoms raise up, creating an arched look. This also engages the leg muscles and takes pressure off the arms. Both of these mistakes lower the productivity of the exercises. It is the coach’s job to remind athletes to keep a good position during the push-ups.
Traditional push-ups are done with the athletes facing the ground, raised up on their toes and the palms of their hands. The weight should be centered over the body, not too far back on the feet nor too far forward on the hands. The body should be kept in one line, not letting the back push up or down. To keep this position, athletes must engage their abdominal muscles. A good number of repetitions is 10-15, depending on the strength of your team. They should do 3 sets of these repetitions to get a full work-out. Athletes should rest no more than 30 seconds between each set.
A different exercise for push-ups is called Across the Floor Push-Ups. To do this, athletes should get into the standard position. They lower their bodies like normal, but instead of just pushing back into the starting position, they should propel themselves off the floor and jump slightly to one side. This can be done to the right and to the left. Ideally, if the athlete is going across the floor to the right, the left hand will replace the right hand. Whichever way the athletes are going, that side will get a better work-out, so make sure that athletes do the activity to the left and to the right.
This drill will take several attempts to master, because it takes rhythm and coordination of the hands and feet. It is also very difficult, so athletes should not be expected to do more than 10-15 on the right and 10-15 on the left the first few times. Coaches should only expect athletes to do one set of these repetitions. The third set of push up exercises is to follow next time.