Creative but Old Baseball Training Methods
I sometimes think I would have no chance of playing major league baseball in the modern age. My major league playing weight was 165 pounds, with no power and below average arm throwing strength. But, I then think about the baseball training methods available now and think maybe there would be a chance. I may have been able to play at one hundred and seventy-five pounds or more, without having lost anything speed wise. That extra weight would have been a significant advantage for strength and recovery on a daily basis, the two things I struggled with most.
Back in my day, there were no such thing as fitness facilities on every corner, school weight rooms, and private trainers. If batting tees existed, I did not know of them. I chuckle when I get this answer from kids today when I ask players what they are doing at home in the off season for preparation. “I have no place to do anything.” I think, “I did not as a kid either, but I figured out a way.” It is surprising how little room is necessary to have effective off-season workouts.
It is easier for today’s players to reach their potential nowadays. High-speed video analysis, strength training, and coaching expertise make it so. Those did not exist when I played. My pre-season baseball training methods were crude and involved finding things to do around the house. Now, players walk into a professional training facility and work out with a professional trainer. Of course, that gets expensive for parents, on top of the fees to play youth baseball. My old-fashioned baseball training techniques are still effective with player commitment and imagination.
Following are some of the things I did as a youth and things that young ballplayers of today can do for the upcoming season.
Baseball Training Methods Still Appropriate Today
- Swing a bat to 9 spots – Even better than a batting tee for quickness of workout. This hitting sequence had me swing three times in a row at every pitch location. Beginning with swings up and away and ending with low and inside, I repeated this twenty-seven circuit up to ten rounds for a total of two hundred and seventy swings a day. The mental training of seeing oneself hit balls to the correct field for the pitch location was priceless.
- Swing different weighted bats – As a kid, I would swing anything around that could act like a baseball bat. A broomstick or tire iron were candidates. When kids have brothers and sisters, or have played a few years of baseball, they have different size bats around to swing. Heavier bats build strength and lighter ones bat speed. This swinging is best in an unfinished basement or garage for safety purposes.
- Jump rope and run up and down the house steps – these were two of my favorites that helped foot speed and to release built up energy in the winter. Kids now often do not know what a jump rope is, or at least, have never used one.
- Speed bag – an excellent device for building hand speed and hand coordination.
- Old Tire – hanging an old tire in the basement for hitting with the baseball bat is great for developing point of contact power.
- Push-ups and sit-ups – the only strength training I knew as a kid but still effective.
- The basement wall for flipping or throwing balls off – when wall damage is possible with hard balls, a tennis or rag ball suffice. Players can work on the correct glove work and quick hands with the transfer of the ball to the glove. Without a wall, players can work on the same things by just flipping the ball into the air and catching it.
- Sock balls – ballplayers can make balls out of socks that are safe to hit in the house. Setting a bed sheet up to hit into adds extra protection to areas. Playing sock ball games against siblings or friends indoors with a safe bat is awesome fun.
With the many conditioning and strength training options available now to athletes, little excuse exists for not getting the most from their physical abilities. Yes, my old fashioned baseball training methods were that. But as implied, the mental training was as important as the physical development. Also, the creativeness and ingenuity of the workouts are something that’s missing from today’s structured youth sports environment.