To my left sits an old catcher's mitt on the book shelf, worn and battered through time and service. It is a reminder of the past. Decades ago, this mitt and its pint-sized predecessor that I grew out of, would come along everywhere I went: to school, to the run-down old lot and to the driveway, where I would await my Dad's return home and the start of the nightly ritual of "catch." Baseball wasn't just a game, then. It was part of the fabric of your life and conversation that needed no introduction.
I could recount endless stories of the game (and if given the chance maybe I just will), but I grew up in a time that seems long ago and far away now. Baseball, in particular, is a deep part of my heritage, passed on to me by my Dad. He was a young minor-leaguer whose career was put aside when he enlisted in World War II and fought to save the world from tyranny. Growing up I knew all about the dusty roads of baseball, what it was like to fair-haired teen stepping into the batters box against a legend throwing heat in the high 90's, the beauty of laying down a sacrifice bunt or leaning-in to a pitch for the good of the team. I learned of these things from my Dad. It wasn't just a "game" to him, it was what we are made-of. That might seem like an abstract vision to those who know baseball simply as a "game", particularly in this era, but it is a connection to the past, an "honest" era when doing what was right was never wrong and principles never had a price-tag. There is a beauty to the game that my words may not quite capture, but as we look towards the challenges ahead we need to embrace the game and nurture the lessons its heritage provides.
With that said and done, in the first part of our series we touched upon general mobility drills to loosen the hips primarily. This is a key point and one that we will re-visit in the future but training for the diamond must start with mobility. A player who doesn't reflect this in their training will be unable to compete and be rooted in the dugout. Mobility is a crucial issue in the work of a baseball player. Along with the mobility drills presented in the first article in the series, Medicine Ball training is an absolute must. Med ball work will assist with explosive muscular development, mobility training and general recovery and regeneration.
In upcoming issues we will discuss explosive work with medicine balls but as it relates to recovery work we will use the following circuits two to three times per week, between each weight training session to ensure maximal recovery. This work should be done with a moderately light Medicine Ball (i.e. 4 to 8lbs) with five to ten throws per movement and the overall workout being done in a circuit fashion. Each workout should contain two to three overall circuits.
1. Chest Pass: basic chest pass; feet shoulder width apart. Explosively toss ball straight ahead by pushing off chest.
2. Chest Pass Offset: One leg in front of other, perform toss as above (reverse foot position)
3. Walking Chest Pass: As above, except walk into pass and push off with legs to toss ball (repeat with opposite leg forward).
4. One-Hand Twisting Chest Pass* opposite hip facing target; with ball at shoulder height, twist and shoot ball forward as your shoulder turn to face target (repeat to opposite side).
5. Overhead Pass; with body facing target, lift ball behind head and throw to target overhead.
6. Overhead Pass Offset: One leg in front of other, perform toss as above (reverse foot position)
7. Walking Overhead Pass: same as above but walk into throw (repeat to opposite leg forward).
8. Two-Hand Swing with opposite hip facing target holding ball with both hands, swing backwards, twisting and looking behind you '" then transfer weight and carry ball through throwing ball
9. One-Hand Swing*; as above but with one hand and sweep hand through to toss ball
10. Seated Throwing Twist*; from seated straddle position, twist body, reaching ball behind you and extend back throwing ball to side.
11. Seated Twist*; from straddle position, twist to one side, placing ball behind back as far as possible. Twist to opposite side and pick ball up.
12. Scoop Forward; from standing position, swing ball above head, then begin forward phase of movement, swinging ball between legs as you push buttocks back such that your back is in the neutral position. From this stage, explosively pull hips through and bring ball up and finally explosively throw straight ahead.
13. Scoop Backward; a powerhouse movement '" From standing position, swing ball above head, then begin forward phase of movement, swinging ball between legs as you push buttocks back such that your back is in the neutral position. From this stage, explosively pull hips through and bring ball up, extending above your head and finally explosively slamming straight behind you. Ball should land close to your heels.
Drop by for the next in this series on the grand old game of Baseball.