Even the most casual fan of baseball knows that baseball players have to sprint. In addition to sprinting to first base or beyond after hitting a ball into play, outfielders run after fly balls, infielders accelerate quickly to get to a ball, and base runners steal.
But that’s not all.
Ballplayers who improve their sprinting also develop muscles used in hitting and pitching. Improving sprinting also improves explosiveness, by recruiting the right types of muscle fibers (type II) and generating energy more efficiently with the body’s fastest system for replenishing ATP, Creatine Phosphate.
My 7th grade son has been working out for the past half year. It started with calisthenics towards the end of his baseball season. After the baseball season ended in early September, he also began a plyometrics program based on the book Progressive Plyometrics for Kids, as a way to step up his efforts to become fit in the baseball off season.
Though I already briefly mentioned plyometrics as part of my Strength and Conditioning guide, I’m ready to fully review the program now that he’s done as much of it as he’s going to do.
To summarize: On the one hand, the book is very well done. When followed with good faith effort the program produces impressive, measurable results. On the other hand my son was unable to stay motivated enough to complete all 6 weeks of the program.
None of the teams I normally root for were in the World Series this year. Yet, it was one of the more interesting World Series I’ve watched. We saw some terrific fielding. There were a few steals and bunts to add a little spice to the games. We got to watch Kershaw and Verlander put on good pitching shows. Yes, I know, the Astros did manage to get to Kershaw in the 4th inning of the 5th game . . .
But what will probably be remembered most about this World Series were the record 25 home runs, 15 hit by the Astros, and 10 hit by the Dodgers. The MVP was awarded to George Springer on account of his 5 Springer Dingers.
Curiously, I never heard any of the World Series broadcasters discuss Springer’s bat.
It’s an Axe bat.
The fact that his bat was never discussed suggests to me that Axe bats are no longer curiosities used by some college teams and a few well known major league players (Dustin Pedroia, Mookie Betts, etc.). Axe bats, while not quite mainstream, are common enough to no longer merit special mention.
And yet, I’m still not seeing too many Axe bats used in youth baseball. I think that’s going to change over the next few years, and not just because of Springer’s Dingers. Here’s why:
Below is a complete list of youth baseball bats with the USABat stamp printed on them (last updated June 15, 2018).
All bats on this list are approved for play in leagues which require this new standard, which goes into effect January 1, 2018 for most recreation leagues in the U.S. In addition to bat name, model number, width, drop, and length range, the list also includes MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price).
Editor's Note: I'm pleased to introduce guest writer Karr Fager, a college athlete currently attending Northwestern University as of the time of this writing. Karr has played baseball, basketball, and soccer in high school and beyond, so I jumped at the opportunity when he offered to share his thoughts about the multi-sports athlete experience. Karr discussed other issues related to fitness and baseball at his (now retired) blog, Baseball Hideout - Joe Golton
As a multiple sport athlete, I have long wondered how much the other sports I played affected my baseball play, if at all. Baseball was my main sport from a young age, but I thoroughly enjoyed pickup games of football, basketball, volleyball, and really any other sport I could get my hands on.
Formal strength and conditioning programs for athletes usually start in high school. While this happens to be the cultural norm in the U.S., it’s not what’s best for serious athletes in youth baseball or any other sport. Starting earlier not only has the potential to increase performance short-term. A well done physical conditioning routine reduces the chance of injury and helps increase an athlete’s long-term potential.
The question is not whether strength and conditioning is appropriate for young athletes, but rather which specific strength and training activities are appropriate for pre-high school athletes, and how to tailor these activities specifically to an athlete and his or her sport(s).
I’ve spent months trying to get my mind around the general concepts and specific implementation of physical conditioning routines, because my 12-year-old son loves to play baseball, loves to pitch, and has the motivation to do what is needed to keep his arm healthy and maximize his long-range potential.
What can he do to minimize his chances for injury while increasing his chances to realize his full velocity potential 5 years from now?
This is part 11 (Age 20-21, second chance at college) of an ongoing series following a young player’s baseball career from Little League to College Baseball. In order to get the most out of this series, be sure to start at the beginning.
It will be a long time before another part is written after this one. This is a true story, which as of the end of part 11 is up-to-date (June 2017). It will be at least a year before there is enough new material available to write out the next part.
This last post (for now) is long enough that I broke it up into sections to make it a little easier on the reader.
Leo overcame many obstacles and setbacks during his years as a young baseball player, made all the harder by rarely being proactive on his own behalf, not taking his studies seriously, and sometimes simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The old adage, “if you’re good enough, they will find you” may apply to the very best few thousand high school ball players in the nation each year. But it does not apply to most players, and it certainly did not apply to Leo. Except . . .
My son likes Axe bats so much that he now refuses to swing bats without an axe-like knob. Though he likes all of the Axe bats he’s tried, the MB50 is the first bat he’s truly loved. He loves the appearance and grip (designed by Mookie Betts). He loves the feel of the swing. But more than anything, he loves the performance off live pitching.
This review is for my son’s first big barrel bat, the 2017 MB50 2 5/8″ barrel (since replaced by 2018 Origin), 30″, 20 oz. (for 10% discount, use code JGOL10, though note that this code is usually disabled when Axe is having a sitewide sale, as often happens between Thanksgiving and Christmas), which Baden Sports provided to us for testing:
The $129.99 MB50 differs from the $99.99 L144E Origin big barrel only in appearance and the tape used for the handle, so any experience with the MB50 applies to the L144E as well.
Making it onto a college baseball program and staying with it for all 4 years is not easy. Playing high school baseball also has its challenges.
Want to know what it takes?
I’ve been curious myself about what it takes and how it works to play baseball all the way from Little League to college. I’m curious because my own 12-year-old son has been telling me since the age of 2 that he wants to become a professional baseball player. It’s an improbable dream. But it’s a dream that may be shared by over a million kids at any given time.
Though I’ve learned bits and pieces about playing baseball at the higher levels over the years, it wasn’t until I read a very detailed chronicle of one player’s journey that it all began to make sense. This player, who I shall call Leo, is a talented and hard-working baseball player. Leo made it all the way from Little League to college baseball.
The hard way.
This is part 1 of my retelling of the story of Leo’s journey from Little League to College Baseball.