Like all athletic activities, baseball has its own, sport-specific methods of conditioning. There are many exercises that are beneficial to all players, and other exercises are designed for players at specific positions. Some examples are exercises to improve overall physical fitness, exercises that build endurance and strength in the player's throwing arm and drills that improve the athlete's hand-eye coordination. Baseball conditioning will vary depending on one’s age, skill level and goals, but training is common for helping the athlete prepare for and sustain performance throughout the season.
Baseball conditioning will involve a variety of exercises designed to improve one’s level of fitness and ability. Although conditioning will include running exercises designed to build stamina and footwork drills aimed at improving dexterity, the most practiced forms of baseball training often seek to improve arm conditioning and hand-eye coordination. Regardless of one’s position on the diamond, all baseball players can benefit from such training.
More often than not, pitchers have the most rigorous regimen of baseball conditioning; they usually begin training for the season before other players, and during the season, their training generally continues at a more intensive level than that of most position players. Exercises for pitchers are designed to improve arm stamina and throwing mechanics, so that the arm can sustain continued, repetitive motion at a high level of performance while avoiding injury. In addition, training for pitchers generally includes strength conditioning aimed at improving the velocity of pitches, as well as exercises to gain wrist strength needed for effective off-speed pitches such as curveballs or change-ups. Like other players, pitchers also will work on footwork and flexibility in order to field their position properly and with speed.
Hand-eye coordination training is a fundamental component of baseball conditioning, because such skills are needed by all players. Some athletes have a high level of natural hand-eye coordination, but it is something that can be improved and developed even further. Hand-eye coordination drills will involve batting exercises, catching drills and computer-simulated modules that allow batters to watch the arm motion of opposing pitchers. Hand-eye coordination training strives not only to improve one’s ability to hit pitches in a variety of locations within the strike zone, it also is important for outfielders and infielders for optimal positioning when preparing to field an oncoming ball.
When considering baseball conditioning, one should bear in mind the level of competition and the age of the athlete. Injury can be sustained by not properly training for a sport, but one also can become injured by conditioning itself; this is especially true in children and teenagers. Parents and coaches are advised to listen to their children and players who complain about sore elbows, arms, backs or necks, which can be caused by overly rigorous conditioning.