5 New Baseball Skills to Hone
A decent arm and dependable bat will earn you a spot in the starting nine, but you can tweak your skills to make yourself even more intrinsic. Here are five areas to focus on:
1. A better jump off base
The initial lead is nice, but the secondary one provides real explosiveness, says Javi Sanchez, assistant baseball coach at Louisiana State University. After the ball’s delivered, be in an athletic position—come off your second shuffle with some flexion in your knees and your shoulders squared to home. You won’t be static and you can thrust you left leg to the next base, or, if need be, move easily back without being caught. Work on it during batting practice using your imagination for various scenarios.
2. Tracking outfield balls
Watching the pitcher’s release won’t properly guide you. Lock into the hitting zone right by the dirt in front of home plate for the best reaction to the angle of the ball, Sanchez says. For one of the trickier plays, the sinking liner, drive forward without taking a back step. Like with running the bases, use batting practice to work on the fielding and eliminating the unnecessary movement.
3. A stronger arm
Play long toss to improve velocity and distance, Sanchez says. Use this progression 3-4 times a week, working on throwing both on a line, and, when farther out, putting some air under the ball as well:
- 60 feet for 45 seconds
- 90 feet for 90 seconds
- 120 feet for 1½-2 minutes
- 150 feet for 2 minutes
- 180 feet for 5-8 throws
4. A better glove
At the end of long toss, move about 50 feet from your teammate and play fast catch. For 30 seconds, work on getting rid of the ball as quickly and accurately as possible—velocity isn’t the goal—focusing on a smooth transfer and keeping your feet moving to always be in the position to receive a throw, says Jim Thomas, assistant baseball coach at Wichita State University.
5. Snagging the shallow popup
The two kinds of fly balls that trouble infielders are the high fly and the blooper. For the former, pick a spot in the outfield, run to it and then find the ball. Trying to watch and run will slow you down and cause you to drift, Sanchez says. For the latter, you don’t have time to pick a spot. Instead, take a drop step to keep your shoulders open to home—you don’t want your back to home plate—and to be able to take a direct route to the ball. Use your glove to shield the sun if necessary.
Baseball Training Programs
About The Author
Steve Calechman – Steve Calechman is a contributing writer for CorePerformance.com. He has published articles for Men's Health, Natural Health, The Robb Report and Women's Health magazine.