How to Incorporate Yoga (Specific to Baseball/Softball Athletes) into your club training program.
Yoga for Baseball/Softball Athletes, led by a former Softball Athlete.
Everyone is not practicing their sport right now, but everyone should be practicing yoga. And here’s why…
Yoga increases performance and reduces potential injury, plain and simple. It increases your body awareness, self-control, and focus. It teaches you how to be mindful and intentional with your movement on and off the field. Most importantly it helps increase your flexibility and mobility. Most athletes have some sort of limitation when it comes to mobility or range of motion. If our range of motion is hindered, that means we are not playing at our optimal level.
As athletes, our goal is to be the best. If there is something we should all be doing right now it’s using this time to check in on where we are and where we could be. We have been given the opportunity to pause, slow down, check-in, and re-assess. Should we pivot, should we change our training, should we evaluate what’s really working for us and what’s not? The answer is yes, we should, to all of these. And here’s how…
When you practice yoga, you are able to turn inward and notice things going on in your body, that you typically wouldn’t notice. For example, if I am doing a shoulder stretch, I will start to notice the difference between my left and right shoulder mobility. Maybe one side is way less flexible than the other. Maybe I need to be focusing on that one side a bit more, so I don’t incur an injury over time. You can do this with everybody part and slowly become hyper-aware of what your body can do and what limitations it currently has. Then you can work on those limitations, to eliminate them, through proper yoga sequencing/corrective exercise.
Yoga is a series of poses and movements tied together by the breath. It is a mix of dynamic and static stretches, stability poses, balancing poses, strength building poses that if chosen appropriately, can do wonders for you as an athlete.
To break it down even further, yoga means to “yoke” (unite) the body to the breath. That’s it! So simple, right? All we have to do is move and breathe at the same time and we are practicing yoga. Awesome!
So, where do we even begin? How often should athletes be practicing yoga? There are certain poses great for different areas of the body. There are poses that are great for pitchers, catchers, power hitters, outfielders, infielders, and even as specific as first basemen. I’m here to show you what those are, and how to incorporate them into your training program. It’s easier than you think.
With yoga, the more you practice, the easier it becomes. It’s just like when you first start playing your sport. There is so much to learn, but you start with the fundamentals and grow from there. We don’t expect you to get into a handstand in your first yoga practice, or even in the first year. We just want you to learn the foundations of proper stretching to take with you for the rest of your life.
Here’s the best part about yoga – it is a tool you can use now and forever. You can practice at home, with just a mat. You can practice while you’re traveling for tournaments, you can practice in college, in your small dorm room and then you can practice once you become an adult and need an outlet for movement, that is low impact and feels so good on the body. The benefits are limitless!
So now that you know how accessible yoga can be for you as an athlete, you can start incorporating it into your training!
For elite club athletes, practicing yoga 2x/week for 30 minutes each will start to show you improvements in your flexibility, stability, core, balance, range of motion and mindset.
If you are a pitcher, poses that focus on shoulder mobility and range of motion, thoracic spine mobility, and posture are going to be crucial for you to stay injury-free and increase the velocity of your arm swing.
If you are a shortstop, the poses would focus on noticing the difference between the right and left sides of the body and equalizing those. As an infielder, we favor one side of our body a lot, we are on one side of the field, we work in the same plane of motion throughout practice and games. So really working on identifying any imbalances from left to right side is key for injury prevention.
For catchers, your focus should be on hip, lower leg, ankle and hamstring flexibility to balance out all of the times you are in defense and ready position. Your legs need to recover and stretch, so you can continue to get into low positions for long periods of time.
For hitters, you have to be physically ready for every pitch and mentally tough to determine which one has your name on it. Yoga poses to focus on would be for shoulder mobility and thoracic spine mobility, since you are constantly rotating at the upper body to connect to the ball and pushing it to your target area.
For all baseball/softball athletes, we need ankle mobility to help with our hip mobility, which helps us to be able to get into a full squat position and explode up to full extension for outfield players or to be able to push off forward/back and side to side while staying low for infield players. Our hip flexor muscles get overused and need a counter stretch, or they will become overactive and slowly shut down over time. The goal for practicing yoga in general for baseball/softball players, is to counter stretch all the muscles that are being overused and overactive for long periods of time, so we can create healthy bodies that will sustain us to continue to play the sport for many many years.
Register for YAX Online (our on-demand portal) for Yoga for Baseball/Softball Athletes by Season. Just $39/month – your first 7 days are free!
Bomar is the co-owner of Yoga Athletex LLC. She was an athlete from the age of 4, playing multiple sports competitively at the club level for 14 years. Her college years included club and intramural sports. She earned her B.S. in Sport Management from Texas A&M in 2007. While studying she worked under the TAMU Track & Field coach, as a personal trainer following the NSCA – CSCS program. At the time she was also a volleyball and softball coach and was an avid member of CrossFit. In 2013 she earned her 200 hour yoga certification and in 2015 earned her 300 hour yoga certification. Currently she has earned the ERYT500 standard. Shortly after, she became certified in Functional Movement Systems (FMSC). In 2017, she acquired her NASM – CPT certificate and continues to attend several intensives and workshops to stay up to date with current exercise science. Her latest certification was the fitness nutrition specialist (FNS) acquired through NASM. She is currently an official education provider for the National Academy of Sport Medicine, Athletics and Fitness Association of America and the Yoga Alliance. With over 17 years experience, Patricia has a strong passion for bringing the healing benefits of yoga to her fellow athletes for injury prevention and increased performance.