Friday, April 8, 2011

Dynamic Stretching for Baseball and Softball

Unless we seek out new information, youth coaches tend to do things the same way it was done "back in the day." Passing down the knowledge we have gained from years of experience is often beneficial to our players.

But a large part of instructing youth baseball and softball players is based on health and science. And when it comes to health and science, you don't want to be passing down information that is decades old.

One aspect of youth sports that has changed since we were playing is stretching. Doctors and researchers say there's more to it now than just tugging at a particular muscle for 20 seconds (static stretching). These days, dynamic stretching, or stretching while moving, is considered to be more beneficial for athletes preparing to play while reducing the risk of injury.

Here are a couple of good articles on dynamic stretching:

First is a Mom's Team article about the proper way to warm up for athletic competition - light aerobic exercise followed by dynamic stretching. The article goes on to say that static stretching is not only without benefit, but can also weaken muscles.

And here is an article by Yankees strength and conditioning coach, Dana Cavalea, about the goal of dynamic stretching - to get moving and activate the nervous system and muscle groups, not only single muscles.

To see some dynamic stretching in action, below is a video of the 2009 Wake Forest baseball team preparing to play. This was actually followed by another clip of the same team going through a static stretching routine. So they have not abandoned it altogether.

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