Column 25 - Be Ready for Baseball

Original publication date: February 22, 1984

Baseball's spring training is only weeks away. I for one am tired of seeing hockey and hearing about hockey. It's not that I don't like the game. I thoroughly enjoy watching a good game of hockey, but watching the Leafs play all season doesn't qualify as good hockey. I'm ready for a new sport, as a spectator. Will you, as a player, be ready?

Baseball and softball are the two team sports that require the most attention with conditioning. There are so many activities involved with the sport. Running, throwing, reaching out for the ball, catching, sliding, and hitting. All with different parts of the body, and all needing special attention.

Because baseball and softball are played frequently as recreational sports at family reunions or in a neighbour's yard, the potential for serious injuries is often unappreciated. The demands of the body while playing are highly underestimated. Lack of fitness of the participants and the underestimation of the athletic stress results in a high rate of injury.

Playing a good game without injury means being prepared for the season opener. Whether you play in a neighborhood league or an organized city league, you have to prepare yourself so you will have the strength and _endurance to last a whole game. Even if you're not a particularly good player and spend your seasons sitting on the bench, you should be fit and ready to perform at a moment's notice.

Shoulder injuries, strained backs, pulled muscles, and twisted necks are some of the most common injuries. A poorly executed slide to base happens occasionally but is usually the most serious injury.

First of all your hands and arms. Arm injuries occur when trying to throw too far, too hard, too soon. Play catch with someone starting at a distance of about 20 yards. Gradually increase speed and distance over a 15 minute period. The snow is gone on most side roads giving you a chance to practice outside, getting your body used to those cold nights playing ball.

You ean develop the strength of your hands and forearms by using weights (heavy books) to do wrist curls. Push-ups will rapidly increase arm strength, and finger push-ups (push-ups done with tips of fingers on the floor rather than the palms of the hands) will strengthen hands. Repetitions of 10 of each should be increased each week. (Don't do too many the first attempt or your arms will be useless for anything.) Get a rubber ball and store it at work or at home so you can squeeze it when you have free time. (It's also a great tension reliever.)

Practise standing in front of a mirror with your baseball bat. Grip as hard as you can in your normal swinging stance. This will increase the strength of the whole arm. Practise swinging the bat at least 25 times each day while in front of the mirror. This will improve rhythm and reaction time.

Pulled muscles can be avoided if a proper warm-up is done before each practice session and each game. Shake, stretch and move every part of the body beginning with the head and ending with the feet.

Increase your bursts of power by running around the block with intervals of sprinting. This should be done at least three times a week. All of the exercises should be done for a few minutes each, at least three times a week.

Sliding into base requires not only a fit body, but knowledge of how to slide. Make sure you have both before attempting one.

Copyright 2021 K.L. McCluskey, all rights reserved.