As little league baseball begins to ramp up, I’m often asked about strength training and when is the best time to start for young baseball players.
My stock answer is Spring of 8th grade. I’ve written a lot about this timeframe in this blog so I’ll save the “why’s” for now. Strength, balance, flexibility, and coordination are all important ingredients when it comes to baseball. When talking about little league though, FUN should be the most important ingredient. We all want our kids to have FUN, right? We can talk about those college offers and million-dollar signing bonuses down the road :). For now, let’s be realistic and keep it fun.
Typically, 10, 11, and 12-year-olds have weak cores. Yes, they run, jump, climb trees, wrestle their brothers and sisters but unless you’re doing some targeted core work, you’ll probably see less than perfect form on exercises like push-ups and planks. Their core area (midsection) will give out which will cause their body to shake and quake as opposed to keeping that straight line from heel to head. This is an indication that their core could use some strengthening exercises. When it’s time to bat, their swing might seem clunky as opposed to crisp. The way to fix it is to strengthen the core using a 2-3 time a week routine. But only if they want to. I have a 12-year-old but I never force him to work out. Because he sees all of my athletes coming and going, he’s inspired and wants to workout. He’s seen and heard the results that they get from a professional level strength program.
Here’s the routine my 12 year old is currently using:
- 50 tennis ball throws against a brick wall right arm/left arm
- 10 resistance band rotations right side/left side
- 15 baseball bat swings against a soft foam box right side/left side
- 10 Zane Blaster squats with just the harness (25lbs)
- 10 hand-release pushups
That’s it. Just one round and call it a day. Don’t overwork them, leave them wanting to do more. I remind myself that they’re getting enough exercise already by playing pick-up baseball games with the neighbors, running, jumping climbing trees, riding bikes, and playing hide and seek. The 10-15 minute routine that I describe above will target their core, strengthen the legs and torso, and follows my goal of keeping it simple.
Every 3 weeks or so, I change up this routine to alleviate boredom and to learn new movements and skills.