Why Boxing Workouts May Benefit Hitters

Why Boxing Workouts May Benefit Hitters

An alternate approach to off-season training
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With baseball off-season approaching, many baseball athletes will move from the field to the weight room and indoor facilities for training. Not all baseball programs have the same off-season approach, and not all players prepare the same way. Sometimes, practicing another sport can benefit baseball players in the off-season. One great example is the direct applications boxing offers to baseball hitters.

This idea isn't new. Dodgers first-baseman Adrian Gonzalez trains like a boxer in the off-season. He claims it's a great alternative to weight training and helps strengthen his core, back, and shoulder muscles (Dodger News).

Image from: Dodger Insider

Hitting a baseball requires a relaxed body, eye-hand coordination, quick hands, balance, torque, and a strange combination of reaction and anticipation. All of these principles are reasons why boxing is an ideal off-season training tool for hitters.

Boxing is a sport of skill. Thousands of repetitions are necessary to lay the groundwork for muscle memory. The same is true in hitting. A hitter must perform thousands of reps before he can trust his body to react in a successful manner in a game.

When a boxer enters a fight or sparring session, he must trust his body to react properly according to his preparation. To do this, a boxer must relax his entire body so he can throw his hands with quick speed toward his target. The same is true in hitting. A relaxed body and quick hands are essential to hitting a ball with power and consistency.

Image from: Dodger Blue

Boxing uses hand-eye coordination in mitt drills, bag work, and sparring sessions. Boxers have an approach which combines reaction and anticipation. They study their opponent’s tendencies and strategy, so they will best know how to anticipates his moves. However, while sparring, a boxer needs to react with proper defense and offense in order to be successful. This combination is also true in hitting. A good hitter studies a pitcher’s strategy and pitches. Based on the count, situation, and other factors, a hitter will anticipate a certain pitch. However, this anticipation must give way to proper reaction for him to hit the right pitch.

Throwing a punch requires balance and torque. A boxer must keep an athletic center of gravity while throwing his fist at a target. He cannot be off balance and expect to hit his opponent. Hitting has a similar philosophy. A hitter must be balanced.

When a boxer throws a punch, he rotates his hips and turns his back foot to maximize the power of his punch. In hitting, a hitter throws his hands and rotates his hips in the same motion as a boxer throwing a punch.

Besides these similarities between both sports, boxing also provides excellent cardiovascular endurance for athletes. A productive session working a heavy bag can be just as exhausting and useful as a mile run. It also offers benefits in building core rotation strength necessary to hit a baseball.

If you’re a baseball player and are tired of the same off-season training, consider finding someone who knows boxing and can train you with proper form. After you’ve learned the basics, heavy bag work, mitt drills, and sparring (with supervision, protective headgear, and a mouthpiece) may serve as a fun way to prepare for success on the baseball field.

Cover Image Credit: MLB Blogs

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The Difference Between A High School and College Athlete

Nothing comes easy.
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High school sports are some of the greatest times in a young athlete’s life. You begin to play with a group of people that you will surround yourself with for your high school career, if you play all four years.

This is a great experience for anyone in any sport, but it has no comparison to being a student athlete for your college. When you get to college everything you thought you knew about your sport changes and you have to start over.

Participating in a college sport is a very humbling experience for a student athlete, you have to adjust to a college schedule and manage all your classes, along with your sport. This is an experience that changes who you are as a person.

High school sports teams are filled with many different types of players. For example there is the kid that doesn’t enjoy playing the sport, but they love the game so they play in high school to keep it in their life.

Then you have the kids who aren’t actually fans of the sport, but they were put into it at a young age and it’s the only thing they have ever known, so they continue to play to feel comfortable. Then there are the kids who do not care about winning or losing, they are just happy to be there and they have fun playing regardless of the outcome.

As far as talent goes, whichever category you fall into does not dictate the talent you possess, these categories are mainly about mindset. Whether you are the best or the worst on your high school team you are still a part of a team and you work together with your team to reach your goal.

Now regarding the members of the team, some are better than others and then there are some who go on to continue their athletic career in college. These are the dedicated athletes; the ones who eat, breathe, and sleep their sport. Everything they do revolves around making themselves better in their sport.

When you have one of these kids on your team everyone knows who they are. When visiting teams come to your school to play your team the visiting team fears this player. Rumors begin to spread that this player has committed to play at a big time division one school in college and everyone wants to watch them perform.

Whether it’s on your team or another when that person steps into the spotlight everyone stops to watch, because they know something special is happening. Once their senior season comes to an end, they go down as one of the best to ever play it at their school.

Even years after they are done, this player is still talked about because of their high school accomplishment,; but after high school everyone stops following this player to focus on the next potential big shot that rolls through and that players college career may go unnoticed.

Once you get to college, you face new challenges every day and the simple adjustment of becoming a college student is not an easy one. You begin to live on your own away from home and you are becoming an adult with your own responsibilities.

You set your own priorities and have the freedom to do what you want. That’s as a regular college student, but not for the student athlete. As a student athlete, you have two main priorities, class and sports.

When you get to college as a student athlete you begin to realize how “next-level” college sports really is. The two hour practices after school don’t exist anymore, your life revolves around your sport and you spend all of your time either in class or with your team.

It becomes clear very quickly that the only focus you should have is school and sports, and if you feel you need more time to hang out with your friends and sports are consuming your time, then college sports isn’t for you.

Once you finally meet your team, you begin to realize the difference between college and high school. All those kids that don’t enjoy playing the sport, or the ones that don’t care about winning and losing all disappear, they simply don’t exist.

Everyone is there for the same reason as you and the sooner you realize that the better off you will be. There are no slackers and lollygaggers, and everyone is a hard worker. These are some things you realize before you even begin to compete with them, once you get ready for your first practice your eyes will truly be opened.

Your first college practice puts a lot of pressure on you as a college freshman. You want to make a good impression on the players and the coaches and all the returning players are personally evaluating you as well to see how you stack up against college level athletes.

When you begin, you realize all the automatic success you saw in high school isn’t so automatic anymore. Every player was the superstar at their high school and you immediately feel out of place. You have always been a top tier player, one of the best and now you feel as if you are just in the middle of the pack. It isn’t something you are very used to and it takes some adjustment.

This is why I previously mentioned college sports are a humbling experience; because no matter how good you think you are your college team is filled with players just as good or better than you are. Nobody on your college team is a bad player, they have all put in the time and effort to get to the college level and now you have to compete for a spot and it’s a battle.

The early stages are a tough time for a newcomer like yourself and in some cases struggling players begin to question themselves; they begin to wonder if they are good enough to play at this level. In some cases fear settles in and you even question your abilities.

This is when the time comes that you need to work harder than ever to prove to not only yourself but your team that you belong there.

Getting to this stage wasn’t easy, it was a grind, but a rewarding one. Once you gain this confidnece, it will be easier than ever to perform at your highest level. Once you prove to yourself that you are where you should be, the rest will take care of itself and things become easier than ever.

Achieve this confidence in yourself, work hard, and you will be able to reach your full potential and become the complete college athlete you know you can be.

Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

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Why Alabama Is No 'Sweet Home' To Professional Sports Teams

Will the NFL, MLB, NHL, etc. ever contemplate branching out into the deep south of Alabama to expand their programs?
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Going to the top college football school in the country, having pro teams within the state of Alabama wouldn't normally be a worry on most people's radar. Some sports fanatics, on the other hand, myself included, have always questioned why Birmingham, the largest city in Alabama, has never even been considered in receiving major league sports teams.

Therefore, why has it never been proposed? Will the NFL, MLB, NHL, etc. ever contemplate branching out into the deep south of Alabama to expand their programs?

First thing’s first, are these major league teams actually necessary? With Alabama and Auburn being two of the top-ranked football schools consistently, locals have always been content with making the hike to Tuscaloosa or Auburn to watch a football game and let the rivalry continue to fester between the two SEC schools. Meeting Alabama fans or people who have lived here their whole lives, don’t really mind the issue and only really watch the NFL when they want to see the boys they have been watching over the years get drafted and see their progress.

On the contrary, when I wanted to go watch an NFL game this year, the closest games to Tuscaloosa are either in Atlanta to see the Falcons, which is 3 hours, or New Orleans to see the Saints, 4.5 hours. Needless to say, I’m sure it’s a pain for those football junkies who want to do the same. Another issue is, we can’t forget about the other sports besides football.

While down south, especially in Title-town, the only sport that matters is football, I’m sure there are some people who would love to watch Stephen Curry or Bryce Harper play in a live game, rather than having to settle for their TV screens all the time; but don’t get me wrong, we live and breathe college football.

There are pros and cons either way but there is a single factor that truly answers our question. Alabama doesn’t have the money. On one hand we’re not Mississippi, where they have a quality college team (Rebels fans would say otherwise…Roll Tide), pro teams, a large city, or the economic chutzpah; but the state and any of the cities Birmingham, Montgomery or Mobile don’t have the funds to sponsor a team or the facilities to host others.

Currently, Alabama is the most populated state that doesn’t house any pro teams, therefore if fans cross their fingers enough, we may be next in line, yet it’s not looking good. All the surrounding cities teams such as the Atlanta Hawks, New Orleans Hornets, etc. don’t have high attendance for the games. If this continues, it’s very unlikely Alabama will receive a pro team in the near future.

If people are just aching to get out of collegiate sports, which is not likely when you have the national champions in your backyard, there are the minor league and premier teams around the state, including the Birmingham Barons baseball, Birmingham Bull ice hockey, or AFC Mobile soccer.

Whether sports fans look at it as a good thing, or bad thing there is always room open for discussion, and I’m surprised ESPN or other sports talk shows have not picked up this topic for debate recently. It’s interesting to see people’s views on the matter, yet there is one thing that reigns true and is long lasting in the future, and that’s Nick Saban and Alabama football.

So for now, fans, put a smile on your face, stick to college sports, and keep screaming Roll Tide.

Cover Image Credit: Larry Miller / Flickr

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