Baseball Fitness

professional baseball field

One of the oldest professional sports (with origins thought to be as far back as 1344), modern baseball made its initial appearance in America on June 19th, 1846 in Hoboken, New Jersey. Since then, baseball has often been called America's favorite pastime, and its versatility certainly supports such a claim.

Baseball can be played either indoors or outdoors. The rules vary little when the location changes. To be played safely, equipment is necessary depending on a player's position. For instance, catchers (players that catch a baseball thrown by a pitcher) are required to catch a baseball traveling at speeds of up to 120 mph. As such, his or her equipment is among the most substantial.

For most other players on the field, all that is needed are comfortable clothes, a baseball glove to catch the baseball, a bat and helmet when batting, and usually a baseball cap to protect the eyes from the sun. Baseball requires the participant to be able to sprint for distances of around 90 feet, and sometimes quickly change directions. In addition, upper body strength is desirable when batting or throwing the baseball.

Playing The Game

The rules of baseball have remained largely unchanged since it made its first appearance in America. Typically, two teams of 9 players each compete over a series of 9 innings. The winner of the game is determined by which team has earned the most runs at the end of play. An inning consists of 6 "outs" which are divided into 3 outs per team. The team that is at bat is the only team that can receive an out during an inning. Ways to receive an out include:

  1. Swinging at and failing to strike a pitched ball 3 times (called a strike out).

  2. Being tagged with the ball (after striking it) or failing to reach a base before the ball reaches it.

  3. When a player on the opposite team catches the baseball hit by the opposing team before it hits the ground.

The players run around a field that contains an infield (4 bases) and an outfield. To score a run, an offensive player must run around all four bases and cross the home base (the fourth base). An offensive player can progress from one base to another in a variety of ways:

  1. After hitting the ball, the batter must run as many bases as they can without being tagged by the ball or beaten to the base by a thrown ball.

  2. Between plays, a stationary player on any base may run to the next base (called a "steal") provided that the player is not tagged by the ball in the process.

  3. When another player hits the baseball, all of the stationary players that are on any of the first 3  bases may (and must if necessary) advance to the next base in the sequence.

A pitcher throws the baseball from the pitcher's mound (90 feet from the batter's box surrounding home plate) and attempts to cause the batter to swing their bat at the baseball and miss hitting the pitch. If the batter does not swing at the baseball (or does and misses it) and the baseball crosses the strike zone (area immediately above home plate and between the knees and shoulders of the batter), the pitch is considered to be a strike against the batter. If the batter swings and misses the baseball, or if the batter does not swing and the pitch was thrown within the strike zone, a total of three times, the batter is considered out and it is recorded as a strikeout.

If the batter does not swing at the pitch and it misses the strike zone, the pitch is considered to be a ball against the pitcher. Four balls in any one player's session at bat will advance the player to first base. Although a struck ball that does not land in the field of play (a foul ball) is also considered a strike, the final strike cannot occur on a foul ball.

Training For Baseball

Number of Sets: 3-4, Number of Repetitions: 15 to 20

Exercise 1

  1. Using a balance board (arms) and stability ball (legs), prepare for a push-up.

  2. Lower yourself into a push-up. Stop when your arms form right angles.

  3. Push your body back into the starting position.

  4. Breathe in during the lowering of the body and exhale during the movement back to the starting position.

  5. Make sure to maintain a tight mid-section.

Exercise 2

  1. Lie on your back with your feet extended into the air (approximately 45 degrees from the ground). Place a large ball between your ankles and squeeze it so that it remains solidly in place.

  2. Perform an abdominal crunch while keeping the ball held tightly between your ankles.

  3. Ensure that your legs remain stationary (no swing).

Exercise 3

  1. Assume a standing position, slightly bend at the knees.

  2. Raise your left foot out in front of you until it is approximately perpendicular to your body.

  3. Bend your right leg and lower yourself into a sitting position.

  4. Stop just before your right knee forms a right angle and lift back up. Breathe in during the lowering of the body and exhale when returning to a standing position.

  5. Alternate the leg you extend out in front of your body with each set.

Exercise 4

  1. Place a stability ball on the floor (or ground), and lay face down so that the ball is centered beneath your abdominals. Both legs are approximately 6 to 12 inches apart and fully extended.

  2. Perform a rowing motion with dumbbells. One rowing motion from beginning position to beginning position is considered one repetition. Breathe out when moving from the beginning position and inhale when returning to the beginning position.

  3. Try to stay balanced on top of the stability ball by keeping the shoulders tight.

Exercise 5

  1. Place your lower chest (approximately at the Solar-Plexus level) on top of the stability ball and place your knees on the floor (or ground).

  2. Roll slightly forward and lift your knees into a balanced position on the stability ball. Use your upper-body and arms to balance your entire body on the stability ball. Exhale during the movement of your knees onto the stability ball and inhale when returning to the starting position.

  3. Return to the original position. Returning to the original position is considered one repetition.

Exercise 6

    baseball batter catcher
  1. Begin in a standing position and place your right foot approximately 3 feet behind you.

  2. Hold the ball (medicine) in front of you, arms extended and parallel to the floor (or ground).

  3. Bend the left knee and lower your body until your left knee is at approximately a right angle (similar to a lunge).

  4. After lifting back up and returning to the starting position (considered one repetition), repeat with the left leg behind you. Breathe in during the lowering of the body and exhale during the lift back to the starting position. 

Typical Injuries Associated With Baseball

Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis): is a typical cause of pain in the elbow. It is regarded as a cumulative trauma ailment that occurs over a period of time from repeated use of the muscles within the arm and forearm, leading to tiny tears of the tendons. Since this injury is brought on by an overuse of the extensors in the wrist, rest is the top priority for recovery. Employing the R.I.C.E. method (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) is very valuable in reducing pain and swelling.

Achilles Tendonitis: Putting too much pressure or stress on the tendon in your foot can result in tiny tears and inflammation and result in this painful injury. The specific area for the injury is the band of tissues that connect the muscles in the rear lower leg and the heel. Using the R.I.C.E. method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) is helpful in treatment but continuing pain or inflammation may require the assistance of a physical therapist and/or medical professional.

Nutritional Information for Baseball Players

Nutrition is very important for baseball players. Of special note is the tradition of eating sunflower seeds while on the bench or in the dug-out. When professional baseball leagues banned chewing tobacco, sunflower seeds were the replacement. Players began chewing sunflower seeds in order to maintain a consistent level of healthy fat and protein throughout the game. Most of your nutritional diet should consist of carbohydrates, healthy fats and protein. Below are additional nutritional tips designed to assist in the consumption of a healthy, balanced and nutritional dietary regime.

  • Choose foods that are high in vitamins and minerals. Avoid unhealthy foods as the calorie-to-nutrient ratio is low.

  • Consume 5-6 meals a day to maintain a balanced metabolism level.

  • Consume complex carbohydrates at a level of 50-60% of your total caloric intake (breads, rice, potatoes and green veggies).

  • Protein consumption should comprise 15-20% of your total caloric intake (lean cuts of white meat turkey, chicken, fish and beef).

  • Fat (monounsaturated & polyunsaturated) should be consumed at a rate of 20-30% of your total caloric intake, typically 50-95 grams per day (Nuts, fish, olive oil, avocados, red meat, diary products and some veggies).

  • Stay properly hydrated with water - consume 8 to 12 8-ounce glasses per day.

  • Try to eat as many different types of healthy foods as possible every day.

  • baseball slide
  • Consume foods high in fiber as it will assist in regulating your digestive system.

  • Avoid foods that consist of processed sugars like candy and desserts.

  • Keep easy sources of food on hand at all times (such as granola or protein bars).

  • Try keeping a journal so that you can track exactly what you eat at every meal. This will assist you in determining what is working and what is not working as you adjust your diet and exercise routines.

  • Consume food that is high in protein every night before going to sleep. This will have you feeling refreshed and energized when you wake up in the morning.