Baseball catchers benefit from the same full-body stretch routines as their teammates. Because a catcher spends so much time squatting, the lower body needs attention as well. Crouching for long periods of time makes you susceptible to tightening and soreness, so flexibility is required. Taking a few extra minutes to target potential trouble spots will help you sit low and maneuver smoothly. This will improve your performance and endurance, while reducing the risk of injury.
Your pre-game or pre-practice routine should involve a 10-minute general warmup to raise your core body temperature, followed by dynamic stretches that feature continuous, repetitive, rhythmical movement. University of Louisville baseball coach Xan Barksdale recommends a routine consisting of high-knee runs, butt kicks, lateral shuffles, walking lunges with a torso rotation, caterpillar walks and back pedaling. Your goal with dynamic stretches is to warm up your muscles, increase range of motion in your joints and prepare your body for an intense workout. Save your static stretching for when you're already warm.
Thighs and Knees
Thigh and knee stretches will help you achieve and maintain a comfortable squat and avoid post-game tightening. Assume a wide stance with your toes pointing forward and your knees slightly bent. Slowly lower your torso to the front, allowing your arms to pass smoothly between your legs. Resting the tops of your fingertips on the floor, slide your hands through your legs as far you can. When you feel tension in your hamstrings, hold the position for 10 to 30 seconds, breathing regularly and relaxing as much as possible to deepen the stretch. Stretch your quads and knees from a standing position. Straighten your spine, reach behind you with your left hand and take hold of your right instep. Gently pull the foot toward your buttocks. When you feel light tension along your right quadriceps, hold the stretch, then repeat on your left leg.
Hips and Glutes
Crouching low can cause the muscles that move your hips to shorten and tighten. To stretch the front of your hips, assume a kneeling position. Step forward on your left foot, aligning your left knee over the heel. Extend your right leg behind you and rest on the ball of the foot. Placing your hands on your left knee, straighten your spine and slowly lower your hips directly downward. When you feel a stretch along the front of your right hip, hold for up to 30 seconds, then repeat with your left leg. To stretch the sides of your hips and glutes, lie on your back and pull your right knee toward your chest. Hold, then pull the knee and leg across your body and upward toward your left shoulder. Hold, then open the knee to the right and pull the underside of your right thigh upward toward your right shoulder. Repeat with the left leg.
Groin and Middle Back
Target your groin and middle back from a seated position. Sit with the soles of your feet together and your knees open to the sides. Straighten your spine and hinge forward from your hips while pressing the insides of your thighs gently toward the floor. When you feel light tension along your inner thighs, or groin, hold for up to 30 seconds without bouncing. From here, extend your left leg on the floor in front of you. Bending your right knee, cross the foot over your left knee and place the sole of the foot on the floor alongside the left knee. Direct your right knee toward the ceiling. Stretch out your middle back by rotating your torso to the right. Place your left elbow along the outside of your right thigh, and press it against the thigh to increase the rotation of your back. Hold the stretch, then repeat on the left side.
Calves and Ankles
You'll achieve a lower, more comfortable squat if your calves and ankles are long and supple. Stretch them from a standing position. Standing with your feet together several feet from a wall or fence, step forward on your left foot and lean your upper body toward the wall. Put your hands together on the wall at shoulder-height and rest your forehead on your hands. Gently press your right heel into the floor. Feel a stretch in the gastrocnemius muscle of your right calf and hold for up to 30 seconds. To stretch the soleus and Achilles tendon, press both heels into the floor, align your shoulders over your hips and bend the back knee slightly. Hold briefly, then release and repeat the series on the left leg.
- YouTube: Catching 101 - Dynamic Stretching Routine for Baseball Catchers
- WebBall: The 3 Stances for Catchers
- YouTube: Baltimore Orioles Matt Weiters Catchers Flexibility Exercise
- Eric Cressey: Training the Baseball Catcher
- YouTube: Sandlot Doubles -- Stretches for Catchers
- "Stretching: 30th Anniversary Edition"; Bob Anderson
- Wendy Hope/Stockbyte/Getty Images