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.