The Grand Forks Youth Baseball Association would like to provide some thoughts/ideas on what players can be doing from home to prepare for the baseball season during this time of social distancing. First off, we want to highlight that we realize the pandemic is a serious situation and these thoughts are not meant to downplay our current situation. We feel the best way to get through these hard times is to stay positive and do things that we are passionate about. We hope that the players are itching to play baseball and that these thoughts/ideas will allow them to remain positive and continue to prepare for the baseball season.
The main point for the following thoughts/ideas is that we still have access to our garages, basements, parking lots, tennis courts, etc. We can do baseball activities with our kids and not be in contact with anybody that may infect us. Tell your kids that this is the ‘gym’ part of the school day and get them doing baseball activities. We need to be creative and keep our kids active. This activity does not need to involve baseball everyday either, just get the kids moving around while still limiting possible exposure to the virus.
We need to look at this as an opportunity. This is not only an opportunity to prepare for the baseball season, but an opportunity for our players to learn valuable life lessons. Remind your kids that while they miss being together on the field or in school, this is so much bigger. Encourage your kids to use this opportunity to bear down on their studies, hit the reset button, reorganize priorities, and spend more quality time at home with family. This period of time is loaded with teachable moments.
Visualization: Visualization can be a very powerful tool, and is 100% applicable and beneficial in baseball. Players can spend 15 minutes per day visualizing themselves pitching, hitting, fielding ground balls, stealing bases, etc.
Mentally Strong: In addition to reading books about baseball, players can stay mentally sharp by watching baseball on TV. Many sports channels, including MLB Network and ESPN, are airing classic games from past years. Watching these games is a great use of their time. Plus, kids need to watch baseball in order to understand the game.
Daily Exercise: Most important way to prepare for the baseball season and stay positive is to be physically active. Do daily exercise. Grand Forks Sport Advantage is one tool with online daily training videos. Anthony Morando (Grand Forks Sports Advantage) has a great YouTube page full of workouts and advice. Anthony especially recommends viewing the Body Weight 100 video within the 'March 2020 COVID-19 Take Homes' playlist.
Play Catch: The days are getting warmer and if you dress appropriately (long sleeves, etc.) it is ok to play catch outside when the temperature is near 32F or warmer. Find an empty parking lot and play catch for 10-20 minutes every other day. Once the snow melts, a tennis court (fenced in so you don’t need to chase balls around) is ideal until the grass is ready to walk on.
Another way to prepare the arm for the season and develop arm strength is via the use of bands. Search J-bands on the internet and this will provide you with an explanation of what and how these operate. Here is a site that we found to be good: https://www.jaegersports.com/j-bands-exercises-workout/
Hitting: All it takes is a bat and a ball and something to hit the ball into. A lot of us have tarps in the garage, or hockey shooting tarps set up for our kids. Re-purpose something for kids to hit into, be creative. You can use an orange cone for a tee, or just soft toss to your kids. There are other hitting drills that your kids can do that do not require hitting balls and/or a partner. The best way to develop a ‘quick’ swing is to swing a ‘heavier than normal’ bat 50-100 times each day.
Fielding: For infielders, which should be mostly all kids at a younger age, find a building or wall and throw a tennis ball, or whiffle ball, or any kind of ball at the wall that will bounce back. The player can do this themselves, or the parent can throw the ball at the wall. Have the player facing the wall, about 3-5 feet from the wall, in the proper ground ball fielding position. Throw the ball at the wall and the player fields it. This is a great drill to develop quick and soft hands, which it vital for an infielder.
Extra: There are many baseball training sites you can look to for other drills and ideas. In fact, Dugout Captain is a great site that we have partnered with that offers free instruction in an understandable and fun environment: http://www.dugoutcaptain.com/gfyouthbaseball/
There are also a few sites offering discounted instruction and training tools during the next few weeks. We have found this site to be one of the best: https://baseballeducationcenter.com/
We hope that some of these thoughts/ideas are valuable and help you remain positive. If you have any other ideas and thoughts please share, we would love to hear them!