Fitness for baseball is very different from most other sports. The nature of baseball is one where the body is at rest for an extended period of time, then needs to work in quick bursts. The movements are either split second rotational movements, straight line sprinting, or random change of direction athletic movements.
The traditional weightlifting programs that other sports use will help baseball players build overall strength, but many of those programs do not specifically address the movement needs of baseball players.
Much of the rotational power pitchers and hitters are able to generate is due to the separation they are able to create (torque) between their upper and lower halves during the pitch or swing. A lack of flexibility will limit the amount of power a player is able to generate, and thereby limit their performance on the field.
In spite of this, many baseball fitness programs lack a significant flexibility segment. Stretching is often seen as “that annoying thing I do before I lift.” (Static stretching may not even be the most appropriate warm-up, but that is a different article) I was as guilty as an anyone during my playing days. I hated stretching, and would often completely ignore it. The true benefits of flexibility were never really explained to me, and therefore I never really worked at it.
One of the best ways to increase the specific type of flexibility (and increase core strength) baseball requires is to do yoga. I know, I know, yoga is for 40 year old soccer moms. This is far from the case. Yoga is truly for everyone. In reality most major league clubs employ some kind of yoga into their fitness routine.
Here are a few of the poses that will be particularly beneficial to baseball player’s flexibility needs Click HERE to get our free "Yoga for Baseball" workout.
Each of these poses should be done for approximately 15-30 seconds. Any basic yoga DVD or Google Image search will show you how to do these poses. Sometimes a DVD is best because it will help you create a sequence to maximize the strength and cardiovascular benefits of yoga.
The hardest part of implementing yoga into your baseball team’s fitness is not coming up with the routine, it is getting the players to buy into it. It is a tough sell to many teenagers who are trying to prove their masculinity. The first few times they try yoga you will notice two things: 1.) Lots of whimpering and complaining. It is difficult and many of them are unprepared for the intensity of yoga. 2.) A lot of looking around to see who is watching. They will be embarrassed that they are doing yoga and won’t want their friends (especially the football players) to see.
The buy in will come when they begin to see the results that yoga produces and the things they are able to do athletically they couldn’t do previously. They will notice their athletic movements are more fluid, they are able to separate their upper and lower halves much move efficiently, generate more power, and they will be able to focus more mentally than they had previously.
Incorporating yoga into your workout routine will ensure players don’t forget one of the most important aspects of fitness for baseball.
Get your "yoga for Baseball" Workout HERE