Ball Player or Athlete?

Baseball is one of the most powerful sports earth.  Hitting and throwing are two of the most explosive actions that you’ll find in any sport.  Despite this some people don’t consider baseball to be a sport that requires a lot of athletic ability to be successful.

This stereotype is a result of the fact that baseball is game that places a high demand of skill.  Skills like hitting a round ball squarely with a round bat or the skill to make a ball look like it’s coming faster than it is just to have it fad away at the last possible second.  High levels of these types of skills can help you compensate for a lack of other skills such as athletic ability, after all if you are very skilled at hitting your ability to run doesn’t matter much.

Hit Em’ Where They Ain’t

This is part of the reason that those who play baseball can be described as a “ball player” or as an “athlete”.  The ball player might have a lot of skill such as hand eye coordination but may lack speed or strength while the athlete posses plenty of speed and strength but is deficient in the skill side of the game such as fielding, hitting or pitching.

“I’m no athlete…I’m a ball player” – John Kruk

Even with the pitching position some guys are known as good throwers will others are “pitchers”

Jamie Moyer – pitcher

Brandon League – Athlete

The five tool player

For the non baseball fans out there a “Five Tool Player” is a term used to describe a player that has all of the necessary abilities to excel at the game of baseball – someone that can do it all.

The Five Baseball Tools are:

  1. Run

    Willie Mays circa 1954

  2. Field
  3. Throw
  4. Hit for Power
  5. Hit for Average

These types of players are a rare breed and every coach wants a roster full of them because they are have an ideal combination of athlete and ball player.  Some examples of some “Five Tool Players” include Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle or Ken Griffey Jr to name a few.

Griffey always got a good jump and had a good jump

If you want to be a five tool player you have to first identify what area’s you need to improve upon.

Are you more of an athlete or a ball player? 

Should you concentrate on your ball player or athletic skills right now?

It is in our nature to work on what we are already good at and avoid what we are not good.

More time in the batting cage rather than the squat cage

For the most part young baseball players that have been playing every summer day for the last 5 plus years have spent a lot of time and energy building their ball player skills by taking tons ground ball and BP (batting practice).  Running around and playing catch does provide the benefit of building some athletic skill but it does not do provide as much upside or benefit that occurs when you focus on improving your:

  1. Speed
  2. Strength
  3. Agility
  4. Endurance
  5. Mobility

These happen to be my 5 athletic tools

The Off-Season

One of the challenges that occurs when you start playing higher levels of baseball is that there is less time to focus on building your athletic skills in the off-season because there just isn’t as much off-season.  This is too bad because this is the time when you should be focusing on becoming a better athlete in order to bring your game up to the next level.

Not only will a strength and conditioning program provide you with more speed and strength but a smart program will increase your chances of avoiding injuries which could sideline you and it is impossible to get better when you are hurt.

Your Athletic Skill Resource

Baseball is evolving and today’s game demands that in order to play at the top-level you must have a lot of skill, both baseball and athletic.  And it is the purpose of this blog to help improve your athletic skills.

Be sure to check back to this blog on a regular basis in order to learn more and more about how you can improve your athletic skills and avoid injury.

Check back in the archives to see the off-season program that was listed which is a great place to start.

Graeme Lehman

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