Due to inconsistent practice schedules and COVID-19, student athletes like Marc Stocco of Surrey, BC, have had to get creative using regular strength and conditioning exercises to stay in shape and prevent injury during a game. Marc shares his favorite stretches and exercises for college baseball players.
When stretching, the main parts of your body to focus on are your legs and upper arms. As a player, baseball places explosive strains on your ability to sprint and throw at a moment’s notice.
Reach Roll and Lift
The Reach Roll and Lift stretch resemble a yoga pose. But it is common among professional baseball players. To complete this exercise, you will need a soft floor and a foam roller.
When performing this stretch, it’s important that you feel it in your back and shoulders. You begin by kneeling and placing your arms out in front of you (like a zombie) with your palms facing the sky. Lean forward with your face toward the floor and bow until the back of your hands touches the roller in front of you.
Make sure to stretch slowly, easing into your stretch for greater benefit.
Baseball players frequently strain their hips and buttocks, because they must bolt to grab a ball in motion or sprint to a base after a hit. It’s critical that those muscles stay loose and flexible, notes Marc Stocco.
In a standing position, bring your left leg up slowly, bending sideways at the knee. Make a 45-degree angle with the lower part of your elevated leg. Keep one hand under your knee and the other hand under your left ankle. You can increase the effectiveness of the stretch by leaning forward from the waist. The important thing is to move slowly and stretch the muscles and ligaments.
After stretching, there are a number of effective warm-ups that Marc Stocco recommends. Doing the following exercises can prevent injury during play and maintain the quality work applied during stretching.
Lunges require no equipment — only good technique. These warm-ups help baseball players condition their upper leg and back muscles for fast movement on the field, such as pushing off a base or remaining in a modified squat position for extended periods of time.
The basic lunge involves stepping forward and bending at the knees just before the lower knee touches the ground. Ideally, your legs make perfect right angles. For example, one thigh should make a right angle with the other thigh and the lower leg should form a right angle with the upper leg.
You can also do reverse lunges by stepping backward and forming the same shape as you did with the forward lunge. Some players lunge across an open space or step forward, step back, and then repeat the exercise in place.
Many players also use lunges to warm-up their lower back. They assume the lunge position and then twist at the waist in the direction of the leg resting horizontally to the ground.
According to Marc Stocco, it’s critical that baseball players warm up with sprints after stretching. Most rigorous movements in baseball involve sprinting in some form or another.
The best conditioning sprints are the ones where you begin either in the mountain climber or push-up position. When ready, spring forward and sprint a distance of 50 to 100 metres. It’s a good idea to jog back to your starting point and repeat the sprint several times for the best results.
Medicine Ball Throws
Shoulder and forearm strength training is critical to strong and accurate throws on the field. One of Marc Stocco’s favorite arm exercises is throwing medicine balls.
These warm-ups work best with a partner. Focusing on your throwing arm (for example, right-handers should throw from the right side), perform two-handed throws to your partner. It’s best that you start with short distances and gradually increase the distance between you and your partner.