Best Exercises for Baseball & Softball Players

The Best Exercises for Overhead Sports:

I’m often asked what the “best” exercises are – and my response never leads to just one answer, as there are multiple answers depending on the individual’s needs. However, in my experience, I’ve come to appreciate the following 4 moves for any type of overhead sports, including softball, baseball, basketball, volleyball and tennis players.

1. Kettlebell Swings 
Power exercises like the kettlebell swing, hang clean or jump squat help develop the body’s ability to produce maximum effort in a split second.  To effectively increase your power output for a sport that places a high demand on high velocity movements, such as swinging a bat, stealing second base or throwing a pitch, these exercises when coached and properly performed, can result in increased performance.

2. Planks
Core exercises like the plank, Farmer walks & chop and lift patterns will help your body resist movement of the lumbar spine, which will in turn help transfer force generated by your hips through your upper extremities.  For this reason alone, I would argue the plank is the most functional core exercise for softball players.  The stability requirement of the plank and side plank to resist extension (arch) and lateral flexion (side bending) forces on the lumbar spine are key component to core stability.  The more stable your core, the more bat speed you can generate, the more leg drive you will have off the mound, and the more acceleration you will have running bases. 

3. Rear foot elevated split squats

Single leg training is the key to athletic development – the ability to perform strength movements in a single leg stance directly correlates to most sport specific movements. The rear foot elevated split squat, or Bulgarian split squat (if you want to give them credit for inventing the exercise – though they didn’t) puts the body in a supported unilateral stance that allows us to load the lower body with a hip position often found in sports.

4. ROWS

Pulling motions are the foundation for developing strong shoulders. Throw the bands away for now, can you do 5 body weight chin-ups? Without cheating? Can you do body weight inverted rows using a barbell or TRX? If you can’t answer yes, again put the bands away. You can strengthen the rotator cuff all you want, but if you don’t strengthen the foundation, it’s like trying to fire a canon from a rowboat. Start with rows and chin-ups, and you’ll develop better control of the shoulder blade and build strong support system so when you do start with a million reps of band exercises, you will at least be able to reap the benefits of them with a lower injury risk.   

Until next time,
Coach Steve

       

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