A proper baseball warm-up prepares your body to explosively throw, swing, sprint and react during a game. However, too many youth and even pro baseball players are missing the mark with their warm-ups.
I see it all the time. Baseball players insufficiently warm up with some jogging or light sprints, and maybe a few resistance band exercises for their shoulders. Or worse, they don’t warm up at all.
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Maybe you neglect your warm-up because you think it’s a waste of time. Or maybe you simply don’t know what to do.
Regardless, that needs to change.
If you’re a player who doesn’t perform a proper warm-up you’re putting yourself at a serious disadvantage on the field. You won’t be as fast and explosive and you’re unnecessarily increasing your risk of an injury.
An effective pre-game baseball warm-up should prime your body to perform just like a dynamic warm-up before a workout by elevating your core temperature, improving range of motion and activating your central nervous system. The result is improved strength and power, work capacity, mobility in baseball-specific skills and reduced risk for injury.
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As a solution to your baseball warm-up needs, I created a complete baseball warm-up with the help of Colorado Rockies catcher Tom Murphy and former Minnesota Twins outfielder Jason Kanzler. We call it Game Day 12
Game Day 12 is highly effective and should take no more than 15 minutes to complete. It requires no special equipment and can be performed virtually anywhere.
I have provided an explanation of each exercise and the purpose each movement plays in prepping your body to dominate on the field. Exercise order is crucial to the success of this warm-up, because you want to transition from general movements to more specific movements as you move along in the warm-up.
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Watch the video above to see the baseball warm-up in action.
1. Jumping Jacks x 50
2. Skipping with Arm Circles x 40 yards
3. Side Shuffles with Arm Swings x 40 yards each direction
The warm-up starts with three general exercises to increase your core temperature, promote blood flow and elevate your heart rate. The three exercises should be done for no specific time or reps—I added a general guideline above. Don’t move to Exercise 4 if you haven’t cracked a sweat or if your heart rate isn’t elevated.
4. Rollover to V-Sit-Up x 12
The Rollover to V-Sit-Up is a good exercise to progress from the previous three because it’s more dynamic. You get dynamic stretch of the low back, glutes, hamstrings and groin all in one movement.
5. Yoga Push-Ups x 12
This exercise drives good scapular (shoulder blade) upward rotation, which is lost in many pitchers and position players over the course of a season. If you have a hard time doing Push-Ups, shorten the range of motion and don’t go down all the way.
6. Prone Y, T, W Isometric Holds x 10-15 seconds each
Before you throw, it’s extremely important to warm up your shoulders and activate your upper back. This is one of my favorite exercises to accomplish this.
7. Hip Thrust with Overhead Reach x 6 each side
The goal here is to activate your glutes by performing a glute bridge and improve thoracic spine (upper back) mobility with the reach portion of the exercise.
8. Bouncing Inchworm to Plank x 5 with 3-second Plank Hold
Another important aspect in this warm-up is core activation. With the Bouncing Inchworm to Plank you get a dynamic stretch of your hamstrings, ankles and calves. You finish with a Plank (hands out in front) to activate your core.
9. Offset Lunge with Hip Lift and Thoracic Spine Extension x 5 each leg
In this flowing movement, Tom lunges out to the side and drives his knee out to get a good groin stretch. From that position, he shoots his hip up to get a stretch in his hamstring. He then comes back down and performs an Overhead Reach, following his hand the entire time. By adding a reach, you mobilize your thoracic spine and get a good pec stretch as well.
10. High Pogo Hops x 10
12. Power Skips – 2×3 each leg
Toward the end of the warm-up as you get closer to the game, you need to excite your central nervous system. High Pogo Hops and Power Skips are two plyometric movements that get your body fired up and ready to go for the game.
12. Build-Up Push-Up Sprint Starts – 4-6×5, 10, 15, 20 and 30 yards
Incorporating sprints at the end of your warm-up is important, since you want to rehearse a movement (sprinting) that is common throughout the course of the game. I chose a Push-Up Sprint start to conclude the warm-up with the purpose of reinforcing good acceleration technique.
Do this Full Body Warm-Up before all your games and you can thank me later!