Many times great baseball players start off at a young age. More years of repetition can make the difference unless you are amazingly gifted… a natural.
The problem is the strength and conditioning methods that are used with Youth baseball players…
A youth baseball player is a young athlete who is at a different stage in their overall growth and maturation in life.
For this reason they need strength and conditioning exercises that are appropriate for their seemingly indestructible, yet delicate bodies.
If you’re thinking about training youth baseball players in the 6-12 age range, you might want to consider the following 10 exercises in their program.
Stability Ball Wall Squats – You need a big stability ball for these but not too big. Place it against the wall and have your wrestler stand with their low-back/hips area against the ball. The feet are placed shoulder width apart or slightly wider. They descend slowly and stand back up. I like this exercise because they are interested in the ball and they focus while doing it. Weight can be used simply by holding dumbbells but probably isn’t necessary. I like them because they don’t overload the spine which is contraindicated at their young stage in development.
2. Plank – Youth baseball players love Planks. They are a great way to challenge young players to hold a static contraction while relaxing the face. This is a method that I’ve always taught players at any age. It helps them recruit more muscle fibers while training, and has a direct carry-over benefit to game-day performance. These are done by having them get on the forearms and toes, body straight. Tell them to try to bring their belly-button in towards their spine. Breathe easy no matter how difficult they become.
Pushups with feet on a Stability Ball – Here’s another exercise that you need a stability ball for. It is great for taking the Pushup to the next level without having to overload their joints. The feet will be elevated higher than head level with the toes on top of the ball. Have them lower in 3 seconds and explode as fast as possible to the top with each rep.
Reverse Wood Chop with Medicine Ball – This is an exercise that can be done at any level with any players. Just make sure the Medicine Ball is light enough so that they are using perfect form. When done correctly, the Reverse Wood Chop with a Medicine Ball is a baseball-specific exercise. It recruits the Internal Obliques primarily. By developing this core muscle you will find better coordination and speed while throwing, hitting or running. They are done by assuming a shoulder width stance with both hands holding the Medicine Ball outside outside the left ankle. They look straight ahead and bring the ball over the opposite shoulder until extended.
Dumbbell Sumo Deadlifts – At a young age you must teach form before function. I like this exercise because it teaches the young player a proper movement pattern for learning the Barbell version when they enter their teenage years. They hold the dumbbells at arms length in front with a straddle stance. Palms should be facing in. Keep eyes straight ahead and push the butt back as you lower the dumbbells. Teach them to act as if they are going to sit back in a chair without being able to use their hands.
One Leg Good Mornings – One leg exercises are great for baseball players due to the activation of stabilizing muscles. This helps with injury prevention as well as performance-enhancement. It also helps introduce them to developing the Posterior Chain muscles. Perform by clasping the hands behind the head. Pick one foot off the floor. Bend at the hip forward in a slow, controlled fashion. When a stretch is reached, ’squeeze’ the leg and hips to raise back up.
Superman – Safe development of the mid back area is so important for baseball players. Muscular imbalances are the key reason we have injuries with athletes. It is important to have young players train the mid back area along with all of the Pushups. The Superman is performed by lying face down on the mat in a Superman position. They raise their torso up from the mat while keeping the lower body against the mat. Teach them to pause at the top and lower slowly.
Seated Russian Twist with Medicine Ball – Here’s another medicine ball exercise that I really like for youth baseball players. It is another easy to teach exercise that has a direct carry over to the mat. I also like it as an injury-prevention exercise. Sit on the mat with knees bent, heels on mat, and both hands clenching the Medicine Ball at waist level. Keep the body and head straight while rapidly alternating the hands from side to side, touching the Medicine Ball down on the mat on each side.
DB Lunge – This is a great baseball player exercise as well. Since it mimics the step taken for hitting and throwing and recruits stabilizing muscles it is a no-brainer. Also, it helps develop the Quadriceps and Hamstrings without putting stress on the Spine. Perform forward lunge with dumbbells at side by stepping forward until back knee is just off the floor. Push back up and repeat on same leg for required reps.
10. Stability Ball Pikes – Once again, we’re back with a Stability Ball (Can you tell I like these for training Youth athletes?) Get into a Pushup position with hands on the floor and feet on top of the Stability Ball. Keep the legs straight while bending at the waist to a piked position. Slowly extend back out to the starting position and repeat. These are awesome for getting serious involvement of the entire core.