It’s Never Too Late! 8 Tips for Learning to Play Baseball as an Adult
As we progress through life, we can choose to learn and pick up new skills and hobbies. When it comes to a sport like baseball, many of us think that mastering the skills required is something we have to learn throughout our childhood. This definitely isn’t the case. Whether you’re a young adult or you have just retired, you are never too old to get into a sport. Getting involved in a sport is a great way to stay fit and healthy, to socialize with other people who have the same interests, and to keep your mind busy, by filling up any free time that you would usually waste. Today, we will provide eight tips on how to teach yourself to play baseball as an adult.
Master a Good Swing
Mastering a good swing isn’t the easiest task. You need to practice and perfect your positioning of your feet, head, arms, and hands, as well as your balance. Swing and batting practice is the best way to do so. Learning from a professional will help you to practice in the correct way. The Spinball 2 pitching machine for practice is perfect if you have no one to play with on a regular basis, don’t have time for regular coaching, or just want to squeeze in some practice when you have some time free.
When practicing batting, too, it’s good to keep in mind the area where you will be hitting the ball. If the pitcher sends the ball below your knees or higher than your shoulders, you shouldn’t attempt to hit it as this is outside of the legal strike zone. Following on from this, you’ll also want something to focus on when the ball is coming towards you. Some people say that they like to stare down into the pitcher’s eyes, but this is a common mistake. It’s best to look at the spot where the pitcher’s hand will release the ball as you’ll be able to focus better with a faster reaction time.
Learn How to Throw
Just like your swing, practice is the best way to perfect your throwing technique. To be good at throwing, you need to have decent hand-eye coordination for catching and aim, balance for the throw, and strength to throw far and catch a fast ball. Learning how to catch and throw properly isn’t only important for accuracy and to help you throw harder, but it is also required to prevent pain or injury to players.
Improving your throwing skills can be done simply through practice. It may not seem like it, but the more you throw, the more you will improve the strength of your arm muscles, thus improving the strength of your arms naturally. Throwing drills are often recommended by professional baseball players. You can do these three (or more) times each week and you’ll want to practice throwing over a range of different distances – such as 30 feet, 60 feet, 90 feet, and 120 feet. Concentrate on your accuracy and also your strength. A short three-minute practice at each distance is all that’s required to naturally improve.
Break In Your Glove
Baseball gloves are a bit like a pair of new shoes; you need to wear them in for them to be comfy and fit as intended. The best way to break in your glove is to wear it to play catch with your friends. Not only will this speed up the process but it’s also good fun – and great practice – that will serve you well on the field. Remember that when you’re playing baseball, you’ll be catching with your weaker hand, as your dominant hand will be used for throwing the ball. Not many people are used to catching with their weaker hand, so this practice will prove invaluable.
If you don’t have time to break in your glove – perhaps you’ve been drafted in to help a local team and agreed, even though you’ve never played a minute of baseball in your life – don’t fret as there are options. First would be borrowing a used glove. Second would be to rub some shaving cream into the pocket of a new glove. It sounds strange but if you do this and then place a ball in the pocket – keeping it in place with some rope or some string – you’ll find that it begins to break in on its own. Just make sure to keep it in a dry place while you do this.
Talking about gloves, it’s also important not to purchase the first one that you come across, so online shopping may not be the best answer here unless you have visited a physical store and tried out some gloves first. The better your glove fits, the better you will perform on the field. Different positions also require different sized gloves. Infielders tend to have the smallest gloves, which contain a smaller pocket while outfielders have the large gloves that you’re probably most familiar with.
Improve Hand-Eye Coordination
To become a good baseball player, you need to have decent hand-eye coordination. This is required for every aspect of the game, from swinging for the ball to catching it across the field. If you have poor hand-eye coordination, then you should do what you can to improve it.
Playing catch with someone is an effective way to do so, as is learning how to juggle, exercising your eyes and staying conscious when you play. Thinking about it is the kind of focus you need to improve it.
Be Consistent from the Start
Being consistent and persistent is a brilliant way to improve your baseball skills. Ideally, you should practice throwing a ball with someone for 40 days straight to improve your aim and ability to catch. Practicing swinging is just as important and should be done at a similar rate to throwing and catching, however, it does require more physical strength, so make sure you practice safe swinging techniques and stretch before and after practice.
Try Taking it Easy
Consistency is a highly effective way to pick up a skill, but you shouldn’t push yourself too much. If you are older or don’t have much fitness, then you should take your time and ease yourself into this activity rather than pushing yourself too hard and too far. This can lead to pain or injury, which could cause permanent damage to your mobility (especially if you have a back injury) or will require plenty of rest, which means all the skills you have picked up may decrease or be lost during this rest period.
Join a Team
Perhaps the best way to truly enhance your skills is to join a team. And, while there are a lot of baseball leagues in the United States for kids, there are surprisingly just as many for adults. Yes, some of the people in each club will have been playing since they were little, but others will have been just like you and joined to socialize and learn a new skill. The main benefit of joining a team is that you will get coached by someone who knows what they’re talking about. However, you will also be able to pick up tips and techniques from other players – and find people to practice with on a regular basis.
Upon joining a team, you will get a chance to play proper games – as opposed to just practicing your skills with a friend. While you probably won’t be instantly drafted to the first team, you will get to have practice matches. When this happens, you may want to avoid offering to play the key defensive positions until you’ve had more chance to practice and bond with your team. The key defensive positions are first base and catcher. If you do decide to play these positions early on and aren’t as successful as you’d hoped, this will only serve to knock your confidence – and your team’s confidence in you as well.
Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes
Following on from the above, it’s important that you don’t worry or get upset if you make mistakes. Making mistakes is how we learn; it’s how we improve, and it will happen when you learn to play baseball. The best thing to do is to take it on the chin, work out what you’re doing wrong, and take the required steps to improve. If you’re unsure of the best action to take, or why something isn’t working as intended, speak to other people who play baseball and ask for their advice. This could be a friend or a local coach. Some people prefer to join a local club for more personalized guidance, and this is a good idea as well.
Although it helps to pick up the sport from a young age, you are never too old to learn how to play baseball. They say it takes 10,000 hours to perfect a skill, so it’s best to start sooner than later!
By Jessica Peters
Bio – Jessica Peters is a freelance writer from Melbourne who blogs about health and fitness. Jessica is an avid traveler and regularly crosses the globe to learn about other cultures while blogging from her laptop.