Warmup Drills for Baseball are Crucial
Warming up before practice is critical in every sport and is especially necessary for baseball. The lack of consistent warmup drills for baseball leads to avoidable injuries. Unfortunately, many coaches do not have players do so or do so in inefficient ways. Below are some warmup drills for baseball that make things fun and at the same time, help create better baseball habits and team camaraderie.
Most warm up drills for kids usually consist of a short lap around the field or a few baseball stretches. There is nothing wrong with those. They serve the purpose of getting the energy levels up and of loosening the muscles before throwing, sprinting and batting. When coaches use these two standard baseball warm up drills, coaches should participate along with the players. Coaches can not only set a good example with the short jog or exercises, but it gets their heart pumping, too. The energy increase will help coaches bring the enthusiasm and get everyone excited for the start of practice. Following the jog and a few baseball stretches with solid baseball drills is important, too. With stretching exercises, it is a good idea to have a player lead the team after a few weeks when they know the stretches.
At the higher levels of baseball, a more dynamic workout is effective at the beginning of practice. Coaches can use yoga, aerobics, or light body-weight training to start practice. Those serve to help players get loose and develop greater balance, strength, agility and mind preparation that dynamic baseball players must have. All baseball warm up drills for baseball give teams a chance to bond and develop the team chemistry that makes the season fun for all.
Once the body is loose, many fun and productive baseball drills are good to follow the initial warm up time. These baseball drills involve all the key aspects of baseball – hitting, throwing, fielding and base running.
Fun Baseball Warmup Drills for Throwing
The crucial body part to warm up for all ballplayers is the throwing arm. Arm injuries are the one thing that threatens a player’s season, if not their career. Here are some exciting ways to have players warm up their arms. While doing these warmup drills, the baseball coaches should be watching and working with players to make sure their throwing mechanics are sound.
Throwing Drill One – Accuracy Point Game
This throwing contest is a great initial warm up drill because it begins at short distances and gets players focused from the start. Players pair off with a partner and players play up to 5 points, before backing up a few steps and playing again. A number of ways exist to play this accuracy game.
- With young players, the thrower receives one point for every throw made between their partner’s waist and head, and two points for throws directly at the head.
- The second way to score is with players setting a target with their glove and throwers getting the point when hitting the target.
- The third way to score is by having players call out a specific target – like, right shoulder, left knee, etc. and players score a point for every target hit.
- Similar to method c above, players can play around the world, where players begin with a knee before going to the other knee, belly button, left shoulder then right one, with the head being the final target. The first player to hit the targets in order is the winner. Like with around the world in basketball, after a miss, players can choose to try again or wait to start again at the target they are on. Any two misses in a row send the player back to the first target.
Some of the above scoring systems are more challenging and best to play up to 3 points or for advanced players.
The second throwing training for players is the advance retreat drill. All players begin at the same distance apart from their partner. The ball starts with all the players on the one side and they only throw when the coach says “now.” On every completed throw and catch, players back up two steps. When a throw and catch is incomplete, players move closer by one step. Players only return throws at the coach’s command, and the ultimate winners are those that are furthest apart at games end. This drill helps players focus and builds up arm strength as they get further apart.
The third fun throwing drill may last one throw or take all day. At a distance apart designated by the coach, players set their hats down on the ground and then back up away from their baseball cap and throwing partner. The object is to hit the hat on the fly with a thrown ball. The first player to do so is declared the winner.
Once again depending on the age of players, the next baseball drills are useful and instructional for baseball players. The first of these warm-up contests are on a batting tee, which serves the purpose of stressing the importance of this baseball tool. The hitting game possibilities are endless and following are some basic ones. Contests create competition, pressure and the motivation to practice, all good things for teams and players.
- Out of so many swings, coaches count the number of line drives batters hit. The highest total is the winner.
- Coaches set up a defense and see how many hits on the tee players can get through the defense out of so many swings. Players do not run with this warm up drill.
- Batters play the same drills as above with short flipped balls, instead of using the tee.
Warmup drills for Baseball Fielding
Perhaps the best baseball warmups for kids are with fielding, a part of the game that kids may not do enough. Following are some easy ways to get the body moving and work on the fundamentals.
- Coaches set up two lines of players facing each other and give the first player on either side the ball. This player begins by rolling the ball to the other player in the opposite line, who fields the ball with the correct mechanics. After rolling the ball, players run to the back of the opposite line. Coaches can have players work on any number of ground ball techniques with this drill including barehanded pickups, one and two handed catches.
- Coaches line players up and have them practice walking into the ready position as the coach does their windup. After this move, coaches has players work on first step moves by pointing left, right, forward, and back.
- Players begin with their eyes closed and in the ready position. Coaches throw fly balls in the air before yelling now, upon which players look for the flyball and move to catch it.
A simple way to get players loose and create energy is with base running drills. Here are some ways that help players learn to have good base running instincts. Helmets are recommended for these.
- Coaches spread out in the field with at least one coach in the field and one at first base. Players hit the ball off a batting tee and run the bases with the coaches attempting to get them out or stop their progress on batted balls. The fewer the number of coaches the more work for them and the more bases players can try to get to. Players learn to make the right decisions after awhile. When more coaches (parents) are available, one of the coaches observes how players run round the bases and how they look for balls as they run. Coaches should instruct them afterward as needed.
- Coaches add an extra first and second bases or two behind the regular ones and have multiple players practice lead offs, secondary leads and base stealing. One coach works off the mound, and another acts as the first baseman, so players can work on their lead-offs before following the coach’s instructions on what to do when the pitcher goes home with the pitch.
- Coaches put runners on third base, and they work on tagging up from third base on fly balls. A coach hits balls into the air to another coach in the outfield. Players tag and try to score after the catch. The coach who hits the ball grabs a glove after hitting the ball and is the catcher on the throw home. Helmets should be worn, and advanced players can work on their slides into home, too.
As mentioned, the warm up drills for baseball are numerous. With a little imagination and baseball coaching knowledge, coaches can use warm-up time to teach and get players loose at the same time.
Jack Perconte has dedicated his post-major league baseball career to helping youth. He has taught baseball and softball for the past 27 years. His playing, coaching and parenting stories create better experiences for athletes and parents. Jack has written over a thousand articles on coaching baseball and youth sports. Jack is the author of “The Making of a Hitter” now $5 and “Raising an Athlete.” His third book “Creating a Season to Remember” is in the works. Jack is a featured writer for Baseball the Magazine. You can also find Jack Perconte on YouTube with over 80 fun and innovative baseball instructional videos.
Best of luck.