Are you jealous of the speed, agility, arm strength, core stabilization and leg power of Miguel Cabrera or Justin Verlander? Here are a few tips to help you become ready for the diamond:
- Include sprints into your workout twice a week. Sprints should last 10 minutes. According to Human Kinetics, "Five minutes of the speed workout should be devoted to doing 10 all-out quality sprints at distances ranging from 10 to 50 yards (9-46 meters). Athletes should have about 30 seconds of rest between sprints so that they are breathing easily before their next sprint."
- To improve your speed, you must stretch correctly so flexibility training is critical.
- Jumping rope is great. Try some of these variations: typical two-foot jump, stride jumps (swap forward foot on each jump), crossover jumps or single-leg jumps.
- Use a speed ladder. A speed ladder is a vinyl ladder you roll out onto a flat surface. Run through the ladder (always as fast as possible) with one foot in each space. Then, do two-foot jumps forward. Step sideways on the left and step the right foot in, then the left foot in, then out to the right, then back to the left and so on. Try shuffling sideways straight through the ladder leading with the left foot, then back leading with the right.
- Triceps Dips - Sit with your hands on the edge of a sturdy bench, fingers pointing toward you, slowly walk your feet out in front of you and take your bottom off the bench. Slowly lower and lift your body weight, being sure to fully extend the arm and maintaining perfect posture throughout (do not roll the shoulders in). Whether your knees are bent at 90 degrees (easier) or legs are straight out (harder), be sure to lower yourself straight down (keeping a 1-inch gap between your back and the bench for the entire range of motion) and not in a swinging motion toward your feet. Repeat to fatigue (strive for 12-15 repetitions). Want a challenge? Try stacking your heels.
- Diamond Push-Ups - While in a regular pushup position, put your hands together so that your thumbs and index fingers are touching. It should form a diamond shape in between your hands. Doing a push-up this way will put more stress on your triceps and better help strengthen the muscle. If you are unable to do regular pushups, rest on your knees instead of your toes. Try to complete 3 sets of 10 or as many as you can do. You will be able to do more as you get stronger.
- Plank - Lie on your stomach with your forearms/elbows on the ground. Rise up so that you are resting on your forearms and toes. Your stomach should be drawn in with your back straight. Hold for 30 seconds - 2 minutes. Repeat 5-10 times.
- Superman - Lie on your stomach with your arms and legs extended. Retract your shoulder blades down and in towards the midline of your spine with your ab muscles drawn in. Maintain this position while lifting your opposite arm and leg. Ensure your hips stay in contact with the floor. Hold for 3-5 seconds. Repeat 10-20 times.
- Parallel Squats - Stand with your feet parallel, about shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing straight forward or slightly outward. Place a weighted bar (or even a broom handle) across the back of your shoulders. Push your hips backward and lower your butt until the top of your thighs are parallel to the floor. Your feet should be flat on the floor with your weight on your heels. Rise back up to your starting position while keeping your heels flat on the ground. Repeat 10-20 times.
- Lunges - Stand like you are beginning a Parallel Squat with a weighted bar or broom handle across your shoulders. Take a step forward with one leg so that your front knee is aligned over your heel. Drop your back knee straight down until it is about 1/4 inch from the floor. Use your stepping foot to push you back into your starting position. Repeat this sequence with your other leg. Do 15-25 reps on each side.