Spring training is underway, and soon the baseball and softball seasons will be starting up for Little League, school and recreational teams.
Orthopedic specialist Dr. Michael Codsi of EvergreenHealth Orthopedic and Sports Care offers these tips to make sure you’re prepared when it’s time to take the field.
Tip #1 - Start swinging and throwing early
When it gets closer to your season, you can get ahead of the competition by starting to throw and swing the bat indoors. If you have access to a batting cage, that’s even better.
Throwing is a complex movement that involves shoulder stability and strength.
Most throwing injuries occur in the deceleration phase (after the ball is released) so it is important to slowly build up to throwing full strength giving the shoulder time to build strength thru the entire motion.
Tip #2 - Upper body strength
It sure helps to have a strong upper body, but don’t confuse bulk with strength.
It’s better to be strong and flexible for baseball/softball than so big you have trouble moving well.
You may have to adapt your workout some as you get older, for example the way you exercise your chest.
I used to really enjoy the flat-bench, barbell bench press and made excellent progress in the weight I could use. However, years of grinding away took its toll and I developed a shoulder Impingement in my mid-30s.
Instead of heavy lifting you should be doing a lot of rotator cuff and other stretches for the shoulders and start lightly with dumbbell bench presses and move forward with strengthening in a slow progression.
Besides dumbbell bench presses, other excellent upper body lifts for softball and baseball are pushups, dips, triceps kickbacks and pushdowns, barbell curls, seated rows, front lat pull downs, upright rows and pull-ups.
Tip #3 - Legs, legs, legs
You will often hear retired players say they had to give the game up before they were ready because their legs went out on them; they couldn’t run well anymore.
Legs are key for any age in baseball and softball. You have to be able to run well and even the team’s big, heavy power hitter can still help by improving their running.
The offseason is the time to work the most on your legs:
Tip #4 - Keep the core strong
Work out your abs and core at least 3-4 times a week and make sure to hit the stomach muscles with different types of crunches, not just straight ahead.
Side bends and side twists also work.
Tip #5 - Equipment
Check your gear, including all the stringing and leather on your glove. It’s also important to oil your glove and keep it in good shape.
Glove failure is quite annoying, but can also be painful if the ball rips through the glove into your body.
When it comes to your bat, remember that as we age we often fatigue easier so going with the heaviest bat isn’t always the right plan.
There are so many options today for both baseball and softball. Do some research and buy last year’s model (they are always much cheaper).
Dr. Michael Codsi is a fellowship-trained shoulder surgeon who practices at EvergreenHealth Orthopedic & Sports Care. He is a co-creator of the recently established ACESS national shoulder registry to collect information on all shoulder replacement operations and measure their effectiveness.