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We are adding to “Simple Things You Can Do To Be a Better Athlete Part I.” Baseball coaches at every level are always looking for “athletes.” While there is a level of God given ability, there are always things you can do to improve your athleticism. Today we’re highlighting flexibility, footwork, and reflexes. Keep in mind that there are always other ways to do things and I encourage you to seek and find more information on helpful exercises that expand on my suggestions. If you have good insight, please share it with everyone in the comment section below. Now on to part II…
4. Work on Your Flexibility
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There are tons of things out there that you can do to increase your flexibility. Plain static stretching in my opinion is the least effective option. I prefer dynamic stretching, yoga (I highly recommend Bikram yoga), or Active Release Technique massage in certain situations. One book that I’d recommend in the area of stretching that really helped me is The Genius of Flexibility by Bob Cooley. It has good pictures of every stretch that makes it easy to replicate on your own. The guy is a little bit out there, but his Stretching Series really helped my flexibility as well as the professional athletes and Olympians he’s worked with.
5. Work on Your Footwork
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Agility Ladders are an awesome tool to improve footwork. If you don’t have one or don’t want to buy one, then just get creative and make your own. There are countless drills you can do with them that will improve your footwork, coordination and consequently your over all athletic ability. If you don’t know where to start, the youtube video below gives some great drills to master.
Jump Rope (Special thanks to NLB subscriber Ryan B. for making this suggestion)
Jump ropes are a cheap and old school way to improve your footwork. If you haven’t worked out much with a jump rope before, just know- it’s not as easy as it looks! Sure you’ll probably be able to jump up and down, but try to add different wrinkles and get back to me. Boxers have been using them forever and set the standard for mind blowing jump roping skills. What ballplayer wouldn’t want to have quick feet like Floyd Mayweather Jr. below?
6. Work on your reaction time
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If you aren’t familiar with them already, reaction balls are misshapen balls that essentially never bounce the same way. They force you to react quickly when dropped or rolled to you. My college baseball coach would have us infielders roll these reaction balls to each other (or throw them against a wall if you don’t have a partner) almost every winter practice. Obviously you have to be on a gym floor or other hard surface to work with them.
Tennis ball against the garage
Stand 8-10 feet away from a wall or garage and have a buddy stand behind you with a tennis ball. The “fielder” (no glove) faces the wall with their back to their buddy. “Buddy” then throws the ball as hard as he can against the wall, forcing the fielder to react quickly to catch the ball. If it’s too easy, just get closer and closer to the wall… don’t be scared; it’s just a tennis ball!
By no means are these lists all inclusive, so share any additions you have in the comments section below. Also let us know what you like or don’t like out of the exercises you try. Now go be a better athlete!