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Youth Baseball Training


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In the evolution of sport there has been a movement to a year long approach to coaching, practicing, and playing. This has been seen in baseball as well as basketball. Gone are the days of playing your sport in conjunction with your high school and that's it. Along with this increased level of activity there has also been a rise in injuries that have traditionally been seen in older athletes. If your going to play all year long you must have a sound strength and conditioning program that addresses the sports demands but stresses exercises that can reduce the incidence of injury.

What are the demands of baseball? To be successful in baseball you must have strong legs to generate the power that is sent to your core, the relay center, and a strong upper body to be able to harness this power. In order to swing at the ball you must first see it which gets into the area of eye hand coordination, an essential component for a successful baseball player. Baseball is a game of short bursts that involves speed as well as agility. In a typical game a player may, at the very most, run 90 feet which would take between 9 to 10 seconds.

Now that we understand the demands of baseball you can construct your program. Where do you start? Testing and video analysis. This allows you to objectively see an athletes abilities in balck and white. Once you have this information you can start to put together a program that addresses the athletes weaknesses first and strengths last. This creates a balanced athlete.

The program can then be broken down into it's perspective categories. Speed, strength, reaction drills, flexibility, and injury prevention. The categories may change in regards to importance during the training year but nevertheless should be included in a program. Speed work is a popular buzz word these days but what does it take to teach a young athlete the proper mechanics. My suggestion is to incorporate speed sessions prior to practice to insure proper grasping of the tecniques while in a unfatiqued state. Many coaches mistake conditionning for speed work. Speed work is neuromuscular, you must have proper rest during sets in order to keep good form and that's what your concerned about at an early age. Speed trainig sessions should take place 1-2 times per week in-season and 2-3 times per week off-season.

Stength training should be introduced with body weight exercises, balance training, and with medicine ball drills. It's important to let the athlete grasp certain concepts before progressing onto the next step. At a young age an athlete will have many years to grow and mature physically. Let the athlete reach their milestones before progressing them onto the next level.

Reaction is key in baseball and I utilize many tennis ball drills that teach the athlete to focus and see the big picture which can be transferred to the field of play. These drills are also neuromuscular in nature and should be done while fresh.

With the rise in practices and injuries it's important to use recuperative techniques such as stretching, not only static but dynamic, as well as foam rolling and addressing the sports occurence of shoulder injuries with rotator cuff exercises during the year to help strengthen and prevent throwing injuries. A proper baseball specific program will help eliminate many of the problems associated with hectic practice schedules as well as year long play. Any questions? Please contact me at jimfox@dcemail.com or 301-717-0860. Thanks.

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