It’s that glorious time of year again where the smell of fresh cut grass and oiled gloves fills the air: it’s opening day of baseball season!
With spring training coming to a close, we wanted to take a look at how some of the top major league players get into shape – with classes! Before you make it to the ballpark to cheer on your team, train like the pros:
Many baseball players have turned to yoga to improve their agility, flexibility and strength. After all, Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria says “flexibility is the new strength.” Jimmy Rollins and Elvis Andrus – along with the entire Texas Rangers organization – have dedicated themselves to yoga in the past few offseasons. The local yoga class is tailored to meet the needs of the players, and they meet twice a week to strike some downward dogs. RHP Shawn Tolleson says, “It’s geared toward what we need for baseball, for opening up our hips and our core. It’s not just stretching.”
A scientific study by the National Institute for Health found that pitchers who take Pilates gain 5 percent more velocity on their fastball. The study also showed that the ballplayers improved their balance and reduced their chance of injury. Aubrey Huff from the San Francisco Giants swears by Pilates, which his wife teaches. Before the 2010 season, he did it three times a week and said his muscles felt better, his back didn’t hurt and his general sense of well-being was enhanced.
Strength and Agility Training
Former American League MVPs Justin Verlander and Dustin Pedroia are both known for their rigorous strength training regimens, which include overhead medicine ball throws and rotational cable rows. In addition to your cardio routine, you can add in circuit-training classes that feature strength training equipment to cross train like an MVP.
There is a prevailing (and false) misconception that baseball players are in worse shape than other professional athletes. However, the grind of a long season means that cardio is a top priority for MLB teams. Young star players like Jose Fernandez and Joey Votto are both known to have rigorous cardio regimens that include cycling and sprint workouts to prepare them for games.