Bigger, Stronger, Faster and Fundamentally Sound

William Turner By William Turner, 26th Dec 2017 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>News>Sport

You may know that an unassisted triple play is one of the rarest plays, even rarer than pitching a perfect game. I was involved in a major league play that may be even more unlikely...

Bigger, Stronger, Faster and Fundamentally Sound

You may know that an unassisted triple play is one of the rarest plays, even rarer than pitching a perfect game. I was involved in a major league play that may be even more unlikely. While playing against the Detroit Tigers, I laid a bunt down the third base line. While heading to first base, the pitcher or third baseman picked up the ball and heaved it past the first baseman. I headed to second base and picked up the third base coach as I approached the bag. He was waving me on towards third base, so off I went. As I approached third base the right fielder’s throw to third went sailing right over the third baseman’s head.

Once again I was off to the races and scored. Yep, a legitimate “little league home run.” When is the last time you saw that in a major league game? I would like an investigation and a new statistic put in the record books for this achievement. You see, there are tons of real homeruns hit every year and plenty of inside-the-park home runs, but not many little league home runs have been hit at the major league level. From now on, when people ask me how many home runs I hit in the major leagues, I am going to say two and a half. All joking aside, as you can surmise, I had little power as a hitter. By the way, I also like American football. My favourite team is New England Patriots! Did you seen new england patriots hats? They're awesome!

So, over my twenty years of teaching baseball, one of the most frequent complaints I would get from parents was that their son or daughter “never hits with any power” or “they don’t throw hard enough.” Everybody wants to hit with more power and throw faster. I wish I’d had more of both. Not every player can have home run power or a rocket arm, but ballplayers can get stronger in order to hit the ball harder and throw the ball faster.

There is no doubt that strength, speed and power are important in sports. However players’ fundamentals should not be taken for granted. Many players apparent lack of power is actually a lack of good fundamentals. It may take a knowledgeable coach to notice that but, without good fundamentals, power rarely shows up. The fundamentals, when done correctly, give players the opportunity to put the most force into an object as often as possible. Players will grow, and get stronger with strength training and conditioning, but increased power will not be evident if players can not square the ball up when hitting or throw correctly when pitching. That is why you see big strong hitters chop a ball just a few feet from home – they are strong but without squaring the ball up on the bat, their power is useless. Likewise, a pitcher with a strong arm but bad fundamentals will breakdown with an injury, or won’t be able to throw consistent strikes. As mentioned, the solution is solid fundamentals – they are the best source of power and strength that any athlete can have. This is an ongoing process and working with a good baseball coach can be vital to developing perfect fundamentals.

While players are working on the fundamentals, there are strength building exercises that will help players reach their full potential. Remember, improvement at something, comes with a daily routine focused toward a specific goal. Nowadays, many feel like the solution is weight training with a personal trainer. Although that can be helpful, it is not necessary if players or coaches develop a simple routine to do at home or during practice. The following are some of those exercises that kids of all ages can do with no expense. Setting aside ten to fifteen minutes a day to perform these will show benefits in no time.

Coaches can incorporate these strengthening exercises into the last ten minutes of each practice. Many young players may not do the exercises on their own or if mom and dad insist on it, but among their friends and as part of their regular practice they will. While doing the exercises, players should be instructed to imagine hitting the ball harder and throwing the ball faster. The coach should not treat it as punishment but as a part of practice - with the goal in mind of players getting stronger as the season progresses. It may be a good idea for the coaches to lead the exercises at first, and then let the players take turns being the leaders. Earlier, I mentioned one football (not baseball) team -, you can read what approach their coach use, it's not only a game strategy, you need to be a little bit a psychologist to find an approach to each member of team!

Things players of all ages can do to add power:
1. Much of the bat speed, control of the bat and throwing speed comes from the forearms, hands, wrists and fingers. Players can work on these areas by squeezing things. There are many useful items on the market designed to help, but squeezing a tennis ball or water out of a towel will work just as well. Doing this a few minutes a day will develop the strength that will make a difference with how to get the ball to “jump off the bat” and have a “livelier” fastball.
2. The next set of muscles to develop is the core muscles of the midsection. Doing fast hip turns while holding a weighted object are good. Gradual increases in the amount of weight held will develop this core strength. Old fashioned sit ups or any variation of those will be beneficial too.
3. Most of the time we think of running exercises only for pitchers and base running. However, working on fast crossover steps and explosive first moves of the lower body are just as important for hitting power and throwing speed. Much power is generated by the muscles around the thighs and rear end. Using these muscles with explosive movements will help. Working on explosive crossover steps will develop fast hip rotation for both the hitter and pitcher.
4. Old fashioned exercises like pushups are still great strengthening tools that are good for any and all ages. They will help develop the bigger muscles around the chest and shoulders. Performing different variations like hands wide, hands together and fingertip push ups will work on different muscles too.
5. Finally, doing lunges and knee bends will help develop the leg and rear end muscles, which are a major source of power for both a hitter and pitcher. As players reach the junior high level, weight lifting of the lower half can be done.

After a few weeks of this conditioning and continued work on the fundamentals, players will notice the difference with more bat and arm speed. Finally, the best way to continue developing strength and power is to swing the bat and throw more. Performing repetitions of the actual skills of swinging and throwing will lead to strength. For players who want to be their best, there is no substitute for swinging and throwing more than your competition. From experience I’ve noticed players who throw and swing more months (up to nine), are the players who increase their power and arm speed the most. It is a good idea to give the body and mind a two or three month break from the skill training, but the conditioning and strength work can continue year round.

The following is a good program to follow. Firstly, I recommend to buy a good uniform at which would show your team signs. After warming up, players should start with twenty good swings or throws (each day for hitting and every other day for throwing). Each subsequent practice, they should increase the number of 100 percent swings or throws till they begin to tire. This fatigue level will vary by age, but by just increasing a little each practice session, players will develop more strength and stamina. Strength increases take time but just the feeling of more power can be a big boost to a player’s confidence. That confident feeling alone can make a big difference in a player’s performance. Players should trust their bodies when they begin to tire and rest before resuming or call it quits for that day.

Working to be bigger, stronger, faster and fundamentally sound will allow players to reach their full potential, without future regret of what they might have done differently. Good luck playing baseball and every sport you choose!


Baseball, Baseball Game, Team

Meet the author

author avatar William Turner
Hello! I'm William Turner. I want to become a sport blogger, because I'm fond of sport!

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