Spring training is not just for baseball players

Now that spring is near, the need for physical preparation before enjoying competitive sports must begin.

Professional athletes establish a basic regimen that balances stretching, aerobic and resistance training. Workouts that focus on a specific sport branch out from that basic program.

Sport-specific workouts include hitting drills in a batting cage for baseball and softball, using a wind trainer for cycling or an indoor rower before getting out on the river.

One unique approach to training involves golf. Although not among the most physically demanding sports, professionals like Tiger Woods have proven that a program of diet and exercise can improve golf skills.

Derek Hooper and Sue Cart are PGA teaching professionals at the Lake of Isles Golf Academy in Mashantucket, Conn. Along with Terry Ditmar, a physical therapist, they have put together a program called “Fit Fore Golf.” The program consists of a three-dimensional golf swing analysis, a video study of the swing and designing an individualized workout routine to improve swing mechanics and avoid injury.

“The goal of the program is to improve the efficiency of the golf swing while reducing injury,” said Hooper.

After completing the initial assessment, participants should perform their individual routines for 20 minutes three times per week at a minimum. Six weeks later, the golfers reconvene for a second analysis comparing the initial information to any changes and to be sure they are performing the exercises correctly.

Individualized baseball instruction for improved hitting and pitching also has a big payoff. Local programs such as those offered by Mike Turgeon at his indoor baseball school in Norwich draw baseball and softball players of all ages.

“We work with 7-year-olds for whom this is their first baseball experience as well as seasoned professionals rehabilitating an injury before returning to the professional ranks,” said Turgeon.

The combination of indoor workouts with a solid year-round fitness program can jump-start a successful season in any sport.

Anthony G. Alessi, MD, is Chief of Neurology at The William W. Backus Hospital and in private practice at NeuroDiagnostics, LLC, in Norwich. E-mail him at aalessi@wwbh.org, or listen to his podcasts, comment on his blog or buy his book at backushospital.org.

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