March 2, 2013

A Walk in the Cleats of a College Baseball Player: Preseason Preparation

By - Jaquan Murphy

Six in the morning. The weather is cold. The sun is rising. Most college students are in bed sleeping or just waking up. All except a select group. College baseball players find themselves in a gym or on a field, tirelessly working on preseason conditioning drills.

Photo by: Eric Beavan
The preseason of college baseball is both the most mentally and physically demanding time for a player. Generally coinciding with the start of the school year, a player is forced to juggle the adjustment to a new class schedule, new teachers and new classmates. They have to get accustomed to the personalities of their peers as well as the professors that will instruct them for the next five months. Stack that with having to learn all the new work in their classes, and it is enough to drive someone crazy.

But all college students go through that, right? So what makes players different?

The physical changes that a player endures makes the mental adjustments seem a lot harder. Waking up earlier, increasing physical demands on the body and getting accustomed to new teammates, coaches and concepts all stare a player in the face. Not only that, but some players have to deal with the fact that they are also competing for a starting job on the diamond.

More intimately on the field, players tend to spend the preseason using the time to get the body revved up to start the regular season. A lot of stretching is done during this period to make sure that all the muscles are loosened up so the player does not get injured.

Plenty of drills are run during this time as well. Seemingly endless workouts that are designed to help strengthen little things that affect hitting, fielding, pitching and base running. This is the time when the most coaching is done. Constant adjustments are suggested and implemented for players to improve all aspects of their game.

For most, one of the most exciting parts of the preseason is receiving new gear. Breaking in new cleats, taking some hacks with the new sticks and shagging some flies with some fresh leather is often the high point for a lot of guys during this period. For others, usually for the younger players, this time is exciting because it is when players are issued their jersey numbers and uniforms.

The first scrimmage game is the real highlight of the preseason, though. The smell of fresh cut grass on a cold, brisk day is what most players start looking forward to right after the last out of the previous season is recorded. Getting in the first live reps is what makes the first half of the preseason worthwhile.

This is also a player's time to see where they stand against real competition. It is also a way of showing what else needs to be worked on in addition to the primary goals.

All in all, the preseason can really test a player to see how tough he is and how tough he needs to be. With all the adjustments, it is easy for a guy to lose himself. But once a player passes the preseason test, he is well prepared to take on the mental and physical grind of the season.

Next week we'll take a look at the actual regular season. Stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. Thats alot of stuff to have on your plate at one time. Takes a special person to be able to juggle all of it. Plus alot of student-athletes have jobs as well.