I answer a few questions about how to improve as a baseball player.
Is there a specific baseball workout I can do?
Baseball is a sport that uses very specific muscles that produce results on the field. There are exercises that are geared more toward increasing velocity on a fastball, increasing the range you can cover in the field, and making you swing more powerfully to launch homers. There is a major problem with putting to much emphasis on specialized muscles. The muscles in your body work together to perform and not individually. Focusing on isolated movements can actually open you up more to injury unlike the functional, compound movements found in CrossFit. Complementary muscles are vital to successfully translating hard work in the gym into improved performance on the field. The classic forearm, rotational, and band exercises do nothing without a strong core from which to work. “Strengthening your core” has become a cliche for a reason. Every athletic movement in baseball follows the core to extremity movement pattern. The most efficient way to move your body or some thing uses you biggest movers (hips and legs) first and then down the chain to the smaller movers (shoulders and arms). The largest muscles in your body at your core are the foundation of your strength in any athletic movement. Think of it this way, when you throw a baseball, your major power is coming from your hips and legs pressing off the stationary ground to generate force. One of the last things you do when throwing is extend your arm out in front. Moving efficiently = safely = powerfully. Long toss, arm care including band exercises, and other baseball specific exercises will not give the desired results unless they are supplements to exercising larger muscle groups.
Weaknesses will hold you back even if they are not directly related to a muscle or attribute you think you need. Imbalances in your body and athleticism create asymmetries in the body which open you up for plateaus in progress, inefficiencies in movements, and injuries. I strongly advise you to assess your strengths and weaknesses realistically. You strengths will continue to be strenghts, so address your weaknesses aggressively. Most of the time, arm injuries are caused by lack of flexibility and strength in core muscles along with improper mechanics. A player in tune with reality will find the core of any problems instead of focusing on strengths. The weaknesses are what holds you back and holds back the full potential of your strengths, so it is imperative to get them taken care of. I recommend a CrossFit-type strength and conditioning program because it will focus on strength, speed, power, agility, stamina, balance, flexibility, coordination, accuracy, cardiovascular and respiratory endurance together. Also, CrossFit tends to have a heavy concentration on doing compound, functional movements correctly and increasing your body’s mobility. This type of workout will find weaknesses you didn’t know you had and will force you to improve in all aspects.
Is there a throwing program that will make me throw harder?
There are many factors to throwing hard including mechanics, power, strength, accuracy, mobility, balance, coordination, and flexibility. Just because something takes more time out of your day does not make it more beneficial. Don’t be a martyr. There are many strength and conditioning programs that are difficult to do that take time and effort, but do not help you improve arm strength in a functional way and help you avoid injury. I cannot stress enough the importance to assess yourself honestly and find the areas in which you need to improve. No one is perfect and the person closest to perfect is the one always finding flaws in himself. There is no perfect simulation or substitute for throwing without actually doing so, but there are certain ways to improve strength in muscles that are important for throwing. The hips, torso, and shoulder are obviously very important for throwing, so concentration on mobility and strength in these areas are important. WOD at Home provides many exercises that address these issues. A well thought out throwing program is a must for increased velocity, but a supplemental strength and conditioning baseball workout will speed up the results.
How important is arm care to avoid injury?
Arm care is important but you must be careful to not waste your time doing something that doesn’t improve your chances of staying healthy. I have always found, for the most part, that stuff that is easy isn’t worthwhile. If it was easy, then everyone would do it. I found many band exercises and other arm care exercises to be very easy. Easy arm care exercises mean you are not pushing your body, joints, muscles, etc. to their limits(One must know the difference between pushing and hurting yourself, be tough but smart.) You must do this, so your body will adapt and allow you into the positions easier next time. I found that mobility exercises (I love MobilityWOD.com) are the best for arm care. If your body is able to move and produce force with a larger range of motion, then you are much less likely to put stresses that would otherwise be on the arm.
How can WOD at Home workouts improve my baseball career?
Following WOD at Home for your workouts will allow you to see your shortcomings and weaknesses in the realm of mobility, strength, and cardio. This will improve your ability to do the functional movements needed for baseball. My best year of my career came when focusing on hip mobility and strength thus helping me reach positions never reached before with my arm never feeling better. This serves as supplement to your baseball specific throwing program and practice. This doesn’t make you throw strikes or hit homers but it gives you the body control, strength, and power which will tilt the odds heavily in your favor. That’s all you can ask for.