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Baseball is so deeply rooted in the history of America that it’s impossible to pinpoint when the game was first introduced here. More than 170 years later, it’s still the national game and millions of people across all 50 states love playing and watching baseball. Perhaps you are a youngster thinking about going pro, or maybe you have a school team to coach. Either way, the pursuit of improvement is perpetual in sports. On that note, let’s look at four quick and insightful tips, as suggested by the big-league professionals.
Get More Practice Out of Each Session with a Batting Cage
Get a batting cage if you are a coach, a parent, a semi-pro, or just someone who takes their baseball practice seriously. Often called turtle cages because of their shape, these batting nets/cages can help players get more out of each and every practice session. Turtle cages prevent the ball from going too far out of reach. This ensures that irrespective of whether you are pitching or batting, no time must be wasted in collecting the ball after every hit. Over time, this can improve the whole team’s baseball skills exponentially, as they continue to receive more practice from the same amount of time as before. The cages also act as a safety net for everyone around when you are practising in your yard.
Improve Balance and Stability for Remarkable Hitting Power
A powerfully built upper and middle body, supported by a strong but flexible lower body is what all professional baseball players aim for. Brute strength alone is not enough to be a good hitter or a fast pitcher. The more balanced your body’s distribution of power is between the major muscle groups, the better you will be able to generate functional strength for those monster home runs. Keep the following points in mind while training:
- The rotatores spinae muscles (part of the core) must be strengthened to rotate the spine backwards and forward in that classic cocked spring motion.
- The upper body must be strengthened to add and deliver power from your core, shoulders, and back muscles.
- The lower body must be both strong and flexible enough to stabilize your ground balance during and after the swing/pitch.
Focus On Exercises of Functional Strength
Functional strength refers to the specific, focused strength required for any given physical task. All athletes train for functional strength to get better at what they do. For baseball players, the following exercises come highly recommended for boosting their functional strength as baseball players:
- Kettlebell swings for greater rotational strength and boosted swing power.
- Seated transverse cable rotation and Swiss ball cable rotation for a stronger swing.
- Bulgarian squat and banded lateral hurdle hop for greater pitching power through explosive strength.
- Figure-8 medicine ball shotput throw for balanced, consistent pitching power.
Improve Hitting Power with Greater Upper-Body Strength
The prevailing theory is that in order to generate true strength in a swing, a baseball player must generate it from their legs up. While that’s very much true for pitchers, the contribution of a batter’s hips and glutes are not as significant to hitting power as their shoulders, back, and core. A pitcher has enough time to build from the ground up and deliver explosive energy into their pitches. A batter must react to that explosive hurl in a fraction of a second, meaning they neither have the time nor the opportunity to do the same.
Prioritizing legs and glutes training over the upper body and core training is only acceptable for batters if they already have a strong core and upper body. Unless there is an imbalance between your upper, middle, and lower body, you will gain the maximum strength in your swing from upper body conditioning. In fact, it is more important for the hips and glutes to remain highly flexible for the cocked spring action.