Ah, summer–the time for BBQs, breweries and beer leagues. And what sport defines summer more than a good ol’ game of baseball or softball?
Whether defending your local league title or getting a new team together, beer leagues are a classic warm-weather way to spend time with your friends, coworkers or families. While the schedule isn’t as gruelling as an MLB season, those weekly games can take a toll on even the most experienced beer leaguers.
How can you keep in top pitching form, homer your way up the standings, and still enjoy that post-game brew without aches and pains? It’s as simple as adding some baseball-beneficial workout exercises, and quality stretches into your pre- and post-game routine.
Best exercises to hit a baseball further
As much as we’d all like to hit a crowd-pleasing homer like Aaron Judge, that type of ace athleticism doesn’t come without work behind the scenes. So, throwing in a few good baseball exercises throughout the week could help you hit a little harder.
At first glance, baseball or softball might seem like all arm power, but it’s a total body workout. Working different parts of your body is critical to building power and preventing injury. Try these four exercises to build up your hitting skills:
Push-ups are a classic exercise for a reason—they’re a total upper body strength workout that can help build your core and chest and develop good shoulder function. 2-3 sets of 10 is a good place to start.
Lunges are great for working on your hip and glute flexibility—essential in hitting as you rotate your body. They’re also great for developing hip and glute strength which can help you hit farther.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and keep your back straight as you step one foot backwards about 2-3 feet, or whatever feels comfortable.
- Bend both knees until they form a 90-degree angle. Make sure your front knee doesn’t extend over your front toes, and your back knee doesn’t touch the floor.
- Push off with your back foot and return to a standing position.
Repeat these steps and alternate legs, 10 per side. If you want to increase the intensity, you can hold a weight in each hand.
Reverse lunge with a twist
This variation on reverse lunges helps build rotational strength in your back, core and hip flexors—great for bringing out your best hitting power and reducing the risk of lower back injury.
- Repeat the steps above for the reverse lunge.
- When you’re down in your lunge, extend your arms out to your sides and twist your torso.
- Rotate back to centre, push off with the back foot and return to standing.
Repeat these steps and alternate legs, 10 per side. You can also do this one while holding a weight close to your chest.
Squats increase overall lower-body strength and power. Goblet squats remove a lot of the tension regular back squats can bring while working out your quads and glutes.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and hold a weight or dumbbell at chest level.
- Keep your core tight, back flat, and squat down. Make sure your knees stay in line with your feet.
- Continue until your elbows touch your knees, and then drive back up to your starting position. Repeat 10 times.
Exercises to help you throw harder
Channel your inner Justin Verlander with these exercises, as they’ll help you pitch a little quicker and throw a little harder.
Use whatever you have, whether it’s a couple of old milk jugs filled with water, a backpack with cans of soup inside or actual dumbbells. Aim for 3 sets of 15.
You can do these on the side of a sofa or a sturdy chair if you don’t have a bench. Start with 3 sets of 10 and work up from there.
As with the bicep curls, use whatever you have as a weight. Hold a weight in each hand, it could be a bag filled with books and shrug your shoulders up and down like your partner is asking you where the car keys are. “I dunno.”
This one is good for your forearms and your wrists and is as simple as it gets. Grab a towel, any towel, hold it out in front of you with both hands and twist it like you’re wringing out water. Make sure to do it in the reverse direction as well. 15 twists in each direction is a good starting point.
Dynamic stretching is key to preparing for a game or practice. Unlike static stretching, you move while doing these. They help warm you up, and by moving all of your muscles, you’ll get your joints and muscles working together. This means you’ll be better prepared for those long innings. Here are a few dynamic stretches to get you started:
This is a great stretch to get your legs moving. This will loosen up your quads, groin, hamstrings and calves.
- Stand with your feet together and arms out to your sides.
- Lift your right leg to the side, balancing on your left foot and swing your right leg in front of you from side-to-side
Repeat for 10-12 reps, and switch legs. You can also swing your raised leg forward and back after you’ve done side-to-side.
Get those traps and shoulders moving with quick shoulder circles in this easy baseball shoulder stretch.
- Make circular motions with your shoulders without moving your arms and head.
- Move in a forward circular motion for 10 reps and then repeat in a circular motion going backwards for 10 reps.
Once those nine innings are up, get some quality post-game stretches in to decrease muscle tension and continue building your overall flexibility.
Seated calf stretch with resistance
This is a great exercise for those with tighter hamstrings and calves to get everything loosened up and increase your overall range of motion. You’ll need some resistance, like a towel or something similar that you have on hand.
- Sit on the ground with your legs extended in front of you.
- Loop the towel around one foot, and while holding the ends, pull it gently, so your toes come towards your shin, and you feel the stretch in your calf. Hold for several seconds.
- Repeat on the other side.
Incorporate this exercise into your post-game routine to stretch out your wrists and forearms.
- Hold your arms out in front of you.
- Grasp the back of your hand with your other hand, and slowly bend the wrist down until you feel a stretch. Hold for 3-5 seconds.
- Grasp the palm of your hand, and slowly bend your wrist upward until you feel a stretch. Hold for 3-5 seconds.
- Alternate hands.
Posterior shoulder stretch
Keep those shoulders limber and give them a good stretch-out, thanks to this simple hold.
- Stand up straight and bring your right arm across your chest, parallel to the floor.
- Place your left hand on your right elbow and use your left hand to pull your right elbow towards your chest until you feel the stretch.
- Hold for 15-30 seconds. Relax and repeat on the other side.
What other exercises and stretches help keep you on top form for your beer league baseball or softball? Let us know in the comments!