Players who are serious about baseball know what it takes to be among the best.The best players don’t wait for baseball season to begin to get back into shape—they’re the ones who take their personal baseball conditioning seriously.
All spring long you’ll see them running laps and lifting weights and practicing their form. You might look at it as a lot of hard work.
Well, it is. But it’s the kind of fun work that pays off around the time you’re standing at the plate with two on and two out and your team is down by one.
So get out of the dugout and onto the field with these easy, do-it-yourself baseball conditioning tips.
• Study. What?! Don’t worry; studying baseball is a whole lot different than studying for chemistry. Watch the games on TV, but be an active viewer; pay attention to batting stances and defensive schemes so you can help your teammates line up correctly for the switch. Try to figure out the mechanics of pitchers so you’ll know when to steal and when to hold off.
Grab some exercise videos for your rest days or those lazy Sunday mornings and learn the most effective ways to build power and agility. Do you think Derek Jeter and Josh Hamilton became household names by luck? Chances are they nurtured a healthy obsession with their sport.
• Imitate. Those videos, your coaches’ advice and the stuff you sponge from your favorite MLB players won’t do any good if you don’t try to emulate it yourself.
You can practice your batting stance anywhere; just stay a reasonable distance from your mom’s China cabinet. If you live in the suburbs, your backyard is waiting. If you live in the city, grab some buds and head to the field. It’s a lot easier to shag balls when you’ve got someone throwing them back to you.
• Practice. Over and Over. This is the lynchpin of all do-it-yourselfers. Take your sport training seriously and practice a lot. A whole lot.
Still, a lot of players get tunnel vision and lose sight of why they’re practicing in the first place. If you’re out to simply be the best there is, you never will be. Baseball is a sport that combines intensity with relaxation—it’s a summer sport, after all. Learn to sit back, have fun, and provide that highlight-reel-worthy spark when your team needs it most.
And don’t forget to sleep with your glove under your pillow.