Why a strategic warmup routine matters

A-skips for baseball warmup routines.

You know the quote, “How you do anything is how you do everything?” 

As baseball season takes place around the country, we want to help our athletes perfect their baseball warmup routines. 

A proper warmup routine can be the deciding factor between elite or mediocre performance. If done poorly, it can lead to an injury rate spike in-season. 

Most athletes show up to the field, go for a jog, do a couple of static stretches, add in some band work, and then go throw/hit. While this may be somewhat beneficial, we are missing a huge part of the puzzle. 

Movement preparation and activation are key to maximizing performance and health. In other words, what movements does each athlete need to prepare for and what muscle groups need activation?

Which specific areas of movement, activation, and range of motion does the athlete need to prep?

As we know, the warmup should be different for each athlete; no two athletes are the same. 

These areas can be broken up into specific joints and the desired prep based on deficiencies and expected movements. Here are some joints we need to prepare:

  • Ankles
  • Pelvis/Hips
  • Spine/Rib Cage
  • Shoulder
  • Elbow/Wrist

With each joint, we must prepare it in a specific way. For example, if an athlete is hyper-mobile in his/her pelvis, mobilizing this joint will create an even more “loose” and unstable joint that can lead to a hypoactive glute, causing less force production. 

Instead, the same athlete should focus on glute activation through hip extension and lateral work to optimize the pelvis’ function for performance. 

This same thought process can be taken to all joints. Here are some common areas to assess:

  • Does each joint need mobility or stability?
  • Does the joint lack flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, or rotation?
  • On what plane do we need more stability?
  • Does this athlete need to create more tension/power?
  • Can the athlete create optimal joint positions for force production?

Throughout a baseball/softball game, each athlete will dorsiflex and plantarflex the ankle, extend, flex, abduct, adduct, and rotate the hip, etc. so let’s activate in a way that accommodates. 

By asking these questions, we can create custom baseball warmup routines for individual athletes and optimize their performance. 

WHY STATIC STRETCHING DOESN’T WORK

Gone are the days of seated hamstring stretching and the shoulder cross-body stretch for warmups.  

Why? Because we can do better for athletes. 

Yes, you may feel good at that moment, but those stretches don’t prepare your body to compete. 

Static stretching is designed as an end-range muscle/joint exercise to mobilize a joint (no activation or end-range stability established). End-range mobility should be done in the gym and off the playing field to develop better joint positions along with strength work. 

“Dynamic stretching” include movements designed to prepare your body for use and safety. 

Think of your body as a car. 

When it’s cold out, you need to warm it (dynamic stretching) up before driving not change your windshield wipers (static stretching). Dynamic stretching creates better function. 

DON’T FORGET

Performance is left on the table due to improper warmups. Instead of going through the motions and throwing to warm up, warm up to perform. 

Be intentional and specific with each exercise. As performance coaches, we are tired of watching young athletes run to the foul pole, do three minutes of Jaeger Bands, and start throwing because the rescinding effects are all negative (mediocre performance, injury, etc). 

Each joint should be moved based on what it lacks and its task. 

Looking for more information on baseball warmup routines? Check out AZ Strength Coach Taylor Davis’ blog post here.