The Baseball Zone Blog

Tammy Kovaluk | Jun 19, 2014 9:30:00 AM

Baseball Exercise of the Week | "Front Squat Position Walking Lunge"

The Front Squat Position Walking Lunge is a great exercise to develop overall strength - including explosive strength for sprinting and dynamic stability. Moving forward makes this exercise, used correctly, a dynamic correspondence exercise. Dynamic correspondence exercises enhance sport performance by simulating the amplitude, direction, force production, movement dynamics and muscular contractions of the movements you make on the playing field. [1]

The Front Squat Position Walking Lunge reinforces explosiveness at the hips – a must have for sprinting, throwing, and batting - strengthens up the legs and core, and even the upper body from the shoulders to the wrists. This baseball exercise requires a combination of mobility, static stability, and dynamic stability – working your body as a whole unit rather than separately, just as you do in virtually all sport movements. Remember, If your legs and core are not strong and stable enough, you will not throw or hit as hard and will be more susceptible to shoulder and elbow injuries.

The Front Squat Position Walking Lunge is a triple extension movement. When you move forward with your leg, your ankles, knees, and hip joints must extend simultaneously. Those same joints have to work together when you sprint to first base or make that diving catch, for example.

Here is a video of the Front Squat Position Walking Lunge in action:

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Topics: strength training, in-season strength training, baseball strength training, strength training for baseball, off-season strength training, baseball injury, elbow injury, shoulder injury, pitching injuries, wrist strength, injury prevention, shoulder strength, sprinting speed, explosive strength, mobility, static stability, dynamic stability

Tammy Kovaluk | Jun 17, 2014 3:52:22 PM

Reason #1 to Correct Your Weak Links for Better Baseball Performance

#1. Weak Links Hurt Performance

Well, performance is basically a summary of all the other points but is such an important point I feel it deserves to be mentioned. And whether on the playing field, coming back from injury, or playing with your kids, isn’t performing better the end goal? That’s why it not only deserves its own point, but gets #1.

Any restriction, imbalance, or misalignment within your body can affect your optimal range of motion and, thus, the quality of force production, force application and movement efficiency [2]. A baseball pitcher, for example, with limited range of motion in his hips would have difficulty producing the same work and power output as a pitcher with optimal hip range of motion [2]. This not only reduces baseball performance but puts him at greater risk for injury. 

Injury prevention and performance go hand in hand. 

You may desperately want to improve speed, but if the test reveals that speed is adequate (though can always be improved) but flexibility is the weakest link, then you must commit to working on flexibility and progress to speed only when it’s the weakest link. This requires discipline. If flexibility is the weakest link, then speed training could potentially cause injury or biomechanical stress over time, and you will not be as fast as your potential.

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Topics: injury, baseball injury, Motor Skills, injury prevention, biomechanics, energy leaks

Rick Johnston | Jun 12, 2014 9:13:54 AM

Scheduled to Start? 19 Tips to Help Pitchers Prepare on Game Day

Winning and losing, it is often said, is decided on non-game days and in the off-season, i.e. how you PREPARE to win will decide whether you win or not. We can also add to this thought that how you prepare to win on game day can also affect your success that day.

In this light, here are some tips for pitchers to help them prepare for their next start. I often see players who really have no idea how to prepare, simply expecting to stroll up to the mound and be successful. It is just not that easy and they usually find that out quickly, wondering what went wrong. Well, it could have been any of a number of little, preventable things that contributed to not being prepared.

These tips may seem simple, and it is hard to argue that they are not, however a failure to follow any of them can lead to interruptions, distractions, and ultimately less than ideal preparation and performance:

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Topics: baseball pregame, pitching, pitching tips, pregame drills, pregame observation, bullpens, pitching advice, long toss, pitching preparation

Tammy Kovaluk | Jun 9, 2014 5:44:52 PM

Reason #2 to Correct Your Weak Links for Better Baseball Performance

#2. Weak Links Increase Risk of Injury

Everyone understands the injury that is caused when an athlete slips or collides, but is constantly perplexed when a shoulder slowly starts to hurt more and more or when low back pain starts to occur daily in training. Barring any disease or deformity, such pain or chronic injury is usually due to microtrauma or compensation [4]. Microtrauma occurs through two ways: overtraining or imbalances [4].

Imagine an athlete who has increased her running distance, added more plyometrics to her training routine, and added speed and agility work. Suddenly, her right knee starts to hurt. Overtraining can certainly cause injury, but in this case her left knee did just as much work. Why doesn’t it hurt too? [4] Or think about a pitcher with a weak landing leg. Do you think that pitcher will finish his delivery with a nice, smooth deceleration over his front side? Not likely. He just won't have the confidence to transfer all of that force over onto that leg. And what might that lead to? A more violent and upright deceleration that can lead to undue force on his throwing elbow and possible injury. (Which leads to another issue - first thought will be "fix the mechanics" when the more likely answer is "fix the weak link - the landing leg")

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Topics: injury, baseball injury, elbow injury, pitching injuries, injury prevention, ankle mobility, ankle dorsiflexion, Functional Movement Systems, throwing deceleration

Rick Johnston | Jun 5, 2014 9:59:31 AM

Ground Ball Pursuit...Just How Fast Should An Infielder Move?

Good infielders usually spend an inordinate amount of time working on the fundamentals of how to field a ground ball as far as their physical mechanics, footwork, glove action and making the throw. However, what is often left out is the need to work on developing the feel for how an infielder really needs to approach a ground ball. In other words, just how fast or slow should an infielder approach a ground ball. This is one of the biggest fundamental areas that often gets left out or falls by the way side when working the art of fielding ground balls

Anytime a ground ball is hit, it is generally imperative each infielder moves toward the ball at a controlled rate of speed. This type of movement or momentum achieved by the infielder helps to cut down distance of the play and also assists in the elimination of fielding balls on the bad or middle hop. The middle hop is the tweener, the hop that must be avoided at all costs. The best infielders in the game always seem to get the good hop, they have the uncanny or instinctive ability (or seemingly so - the truth is it is developed via 1000's of reps) to flow with the hop and actually find a way to control the speed of the ball with their movement and make the play seem effortless.

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Topics: infielding, infielding tips, fielding instruction, fielding skills, infielding errors, fielding drills, infielding drills, infield play, short hops, ground ball pursuit, fielding hops, bad hops

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