So, weeks after it started, I actually went back to pre-season training. Twice. And it is already clear to me that the theme of my pre-season blogging — and quite possibly the whole year’s efforts — will be my aches and pains. My old age. Don’t forget it’s all about me, me, me.
Here’s a quick run-down of what we have been doing. There were about ten carefully constructed drills, with the assistance of little plastic cones laid out on the floor. Most of these exercises involved short range throwing and catching. They were designed to improve hand speed and reflexes, I think, but many also seemed to involve knackering my knees and thigh muscles.
There were plenty of options to get the blood flowing (inside the veins, that is — I don’t think there were any mishaps allowing it to escape). Two weeks ago, there was also the Hitting Zone, Pitchers’ Corner, and another curtained off area which I never got to peek inside. Best not ask too many questions about that. Then last week there was intensive infield work. Herts legend Geoff Hare put the crowds of willing victims through their paces, with choppers, bunts and grounders.
All in all, these sessions have been good fun, and certainly a good workout. On each occasion, I was left with a series of persistent aches. For a couple of days after the session, I did only stretching work before getting really adventurous and maybe running. I felt it’s what I most needed, and what I could most easily achieve.
Despite all this middle-aged moaning, there is a saving grace — the aches are in all the right places. They are in my thighs, my calves, my back, my shoulders. And I am counting that as progress. When I first played baseball it would be absolute murder on my elbow. For a couple of nights after a training session, I would even take painkillers to help me sleep because of my throbbing elbow. Whilst even I realised that this pain might be a “bad thing”, I mostly put it down to the fact that I had not played such an impact sport for years. The experience never turned me off baseball, which says something. But I am hoping that my newly-placed aches and pains also say something. I hope they say that I am doing something right, and that I am no longer screwing up my elbow.
Two final notes from the indoor sessions. One is a word of thanks to the coaches. It is always gratifying as a player to find that coaches have put some thought and planning into the training, so that you are not standing idle. That cools you down, which is no use, and also frustrates you if you feel you are wasting a precious opportunity to play ball. These sessions have flown by.
The second note is an illustration of how far I have to go, no matter where my aches and pains are appearing. In one drill I partnered the 2010 GB Cadet call-up, Liam Green. Each of us starting with a ball, we were to throw them to each other simultaneously, then make the transfer and throw it back. It’s a good exercise for keeping your eye on the ball. But also a telling example of a gifted arm. Even twenty feet apart, I was catching Liam’s ball what felt like seconds before my throw arrived at his glove! I was making the catch, then becoming a spectator while he waited to catch mine. I could have gone for a hot dog while I waited. Humbling.