It recently occurred to me how often young baseball players fail to train their lower arms and hands for baseball. I was recently discussing this with an expert, former National Grip Champion Jedd Johnson, and how important strong hands and forearms are in baseball. Jedd was also a baseball player in college and helped me understand how grip and forearm training relates to baseball, My hope is to help young players perform better and prevent arm injuries by adding some simple grip and forearm training to our routines..
Much of the skills of baseball require the use of the hands – swinging the bat, throwing the ball, catching the ball, applying the tag. Also, the hands can be injured during high impact situations such as diving for balls, collisions at home, leaping for a home run ball, sliding into a base, and getting the hand stepped on. In order to perform well at the skills and to be as resilient against injury in these impact situations, the hands, wrists, fingers, thumbs and forearms must be properly trained.
Bat speed starts from the legs and core, of course, but the grip comes in a split second later. With strong hands, we can have a faster bat path through zone, stronger force through contact, and a better follow through.
One item concerning the hands that is often overlooked is the role of the last two fingers (pinky and ring finger) in the control and direction of the bat. When we gear up our swing for a fastball and then notice it is a curve or a slider, we have to make micro-adjustments in order to make contact. This kind of bat control is actually done with the weakest two fingers on our hands – the last two – the pinky and ring finger. Unfortunately, nobody spends any time training these fingers so hitters have a hard time making that adjustment.
In relation to injuries, grip training is beneficial in two ways. First off, the tendons and muscles become stronger, and thus can take more force during impact without becoming strained and without causing misalignment of the bones in the wrist – when the tiny bones in the wrist get out of alignment, they can cause some nasty aggravating pain that last a long time, so prevention is the key here.
A second way grip and forearm training keeps you in the game, instead of on the disabled list is because stronger muscles will recover from injuries quicker. Hand, wrist, forearm, and even elbow injuries can be avoided or when there is an injury help you heal sooner.
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