Off-Season Training

I thought I’d throw out the first pitch for youth baseball off-season training today. I’ve had it with winter and since MLB Spring Training and the World Baseball Classic are already well underway, it’s time to look at off-season training for youth baseball. I am the first to confess that I had great intentions of keeping my son to a baseball training regimen over the winter, but between his basketball and my work I figured there was no point in being a taskmaster and promoting burnout. I do feel some competitive guilt since other players that he knows have been already been involved in AAU baseball training since January or February, and although right now we neither have the time nor the funds to go the AAU route ourselves (been there before & had amazing experiences) I don’t want my son to be at a disadvantage. As time goes on, natural ability needs to be supplemented by drive and a longer training commitment, but also the kid is only 11 years old.

Having said that, with basketball now over I am putting Matt on a daily regimen of core strength development. This is combined with the focused skills work he continues to get (since January) through his outside individual training in hitting and pitching at the Hit Barn in Weston, Mass. One of the keys to core strength development for pre-teen youth players is to NOT put stress on their joints and growth plates by using excessive weights. The objectives should be toning, balance, coordination and explosive movement. All of these can be accomplished through techniques using resistance band training, very light weights (1 or 2 lbs) with more repetitions and body weight.

Following is an example of the basic program that I am currently using at home. It can be done on a daily basis to establish the routine, does not take much time (about 30-45 minutes per session) and also does not cost alot of money. I do this along with my son and make a fun competition out of it. The key is consistency. He begins each of these mini-workouts with a full pre-game stretching routine to both prevent injury and develop the habit of always doing that before practice or games (sometimes this is forgotten by youth baseball coaches).

DAY #1: Hitting Preparation

  • 1/4 mile run (once around the block)
  • 30 sec. plank hold
  • 20 grip-ball reps per hand
  • 15 push-ups
  • 50 sit-ups
  • 25 squats (using empty weight bar or backpack w/ medicine ball inside)
  • 10 burpees
  • 10 forward leg extensions, 10 side leg extensions & 10 leg curls (each leg w/ ankle weight)
  • 10 full swings with weighted bat (each side if switch-hitter)
  • Read about Hitting Strategies (for mental development)

DAY #2: Pitching Preparation

  • 5 40-yard sprints (walking back)
  • 30 sec. plank hold
  • 20 grip-ball reps per hand
  • 15 push-ups
  • 50 sit-ups
  • 10 burpees
  • 20 full twists holding medicine ball (either standing or seated)
  • Resistance band workout for arms (or use 2 lb. hand weights)
  • 12 oz. weighted baseball wrist exercises
  • Read about Pitching Strategies (for mental development)

These 2 routines can be alternated through the week to be done every day. The result is that on a daily basis the core strength area of the trunk is being developed, with focused exercises for legs and arms performed on alternate days.

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