Nowadays, young players copy everything they see the pros do: the gear, the swag, the bat flips, the weight they put on the barbell etc.
Rarely do we see players copy the things that truly make the Pros, the Pros: the hustle, the grind in the weight room (I'm not talking about how much weight they lift, more like the consistency), the studying of the scouting reports, the prep work, the recovery work, the pre-game warm-ups etc.
Eventually, I would like to write a post on all of these, but because it is something that I see every ballplayer rush through, do poorly, and can improve in an instant, this post will be all about covering the basics to a solid Pre-Game Warm-Up.
- Foam Roll - Decreases muscle density/tension, increases blood flow and sets the stage for your warm-up. Spend more time on tender areas.
- Static Stretch - These are the ones you probably learned when you were in little league (where you circle up with your team in the outfield), hamstring, forearm, quad stretches etc.. Spend more time on the stretches that are uncomfortable for you, not the ones you are good at, hold for 3 long breaths.
- Mobility Drills - This is not flexibility, mobility targets the joints and requires gentle motion. These will be specific to you (but most people will always need some level of ankle or hip work), some examples are leg swings for ankle and hip mobility or split squats for hip mobility. These will prep your body to get comfortable in the end ranges of motion, which will increase functionality and thus decrease the risk for compensation (i.e., lack of hip mobility will increase low back compensation and thus low back pain).
- Dynamic Warm-up (linear and lateral) - We want to gradually increase the stress on the muscles while activating and elongated them. These are your high knees, butt kicks, leg cradles, carioca etc.
- Activation movements. Examples are your A-Skips, B-Skips, quick feet drills, aggressive arm action drills etc. These are done to get your muscles prepared to move in a more explosive manner and to actively increase and get your body in specific end ranges of motion.
- Position specific mobility/activation - These are extra, more game-like, drills that are highly specific to the position. Catchers might do some extra hip and ankle mobility work, while pitchers may do some more knee stability, upper body (thoracic spine) mobility work, or even some band work.
I know when I was growing up I probably only did 1 out of these 6 because my body always "felt great". This is not an all-inclusive list (and some athletes may need to spend more or less time in some areas), but a great place to start for a young ballplayer to ensure long-term health and injury prevention.