Pregame routine

Ok this is a very different kind of post that I am going to do here, but I think it is well worth your time. Athletes have their superstitions and pregame routines that set them up for success. When I go to the ballpark to try and catch baseballs, I have a routine of my own.

On Thursday, I was down at Point Park University picking up my books, and despite the rain that was falling from the sky, I decided to make the walk to PNC Park with Colston and show the routine that I have. Catching baseball involves a lot of running and a lot of the things that go on make me feel like a major leaguer. This is again a different type of blog post and will be led by pictures and explanation. I have a very long pregame routine that I use but it has always done the trick for me.

This first picture involves my tradition of walking to PNC Park. When I am alone or meeting someone, I will always walk on the Clemente Bridge. I usually am walking anywhere from 3:00-3:30 for a gate opening of 5:00. At games I attended last season I was almost always the first one there although Baseball Joe occasionally beats me out. Walking on this bridge provides a great view of the water, ballpark and some Pittsburgh sights.

This is a picture of the Clemente Gate. This is the gate closest to me when I get off of the Clemente Bridge. This gate is the only gate that opens on 5:00 on weekday night games, 4:30 on weekend night games and 11:00 on weekend afternoon games (other times vary). This is the line I obviously wait in to get in the ballpark. The gate is surrounded by the Clemente Statue that many fans choose to take pictures with. As you see it was open on this day, and although I did want a picture of the field, I opted to be a good boy.

After putting my bag down at a specific part of the gate, I start my stretches. I start by loosening up my arm and spreading them around so that they are ready for the remainder of the stretches and the day ahead.

My first stretch are standing up toe touches. I will reach straight down and hold for 30-45 seconds and then will go reach to the right side and left side and do the same thing. This helps get that feeling in my legs to get the speed that I often times use to my advantage at PNC Park.

Next up is 20-30 jumping jacks. These get the arms and legs working. I already discussed how my speed is a huge advantage I have when I go against Pittsburgh ballhawks and this maintains the speed I have. Also if I hope to catch a lot of baseballs I have to make sure that my arms are ready and this allows my arms to stretch out with a little bit of frequency.

I then sit down (in this case in the rain) and reach and touch my toes. This one just like the standing up one allows me to feel the burn in my hands but more so in the legs.

I then put my feet together and get set in a butterfly position. This gets the knees going and at least for me is relaxing. I love doing the butterfly and it allows me to tune all of the unnecessary things out.

I then get back up and jog in place for 30 seconds. This gets those juices flowing and that feel as though a BP baseball was hit. I then speed up the intensity and work the legs even higher for 30-45 seconds. Another simple work out that helps out the legs.

I then do small, medium and large circles for 30-45 seconds going both forward and backwards. This gets the arms working again and keeps me ready to throw later on in the routine and for whatever else that transpires for the remainder of the day.

I then put my hands on my hips and slowly rotate forward and backward for a minute. It is just something that keeps me at ease, and gets the hips working and less sensative to sudden movements and turns. Face it injuries happen and this is one of those stretches that can help prevent injuries.

I then move my feet outward and inward for a minute before switching to frontward and backward for a minute. Finally, I combine the two and do that for a minute. I exert myself more and more as each minute goes on.

I then start my running and sprint forwards and backwards one time each. This gets the feet moving and becomes realistic.

This next bit of running is actually shuffling. I have used this for tennis and basketball shuffling from one side to the other. I will turn left and right and shuffle. This is to work on footwork which is obviously very important when catching baseballs.

The next drill is called karaoke. No I do not sing but what I do is start with both feet turned and twist my body. As I am turning each foot alternates so if the left foot was in front on the first step, the right is in front on the second step. I do this down and back. Again footwork is key.

This exercise was something I first learned when I was in physical therapy a few years back because of my leg. I now use this as a run with each step getting my legs up high and making smaller steps. I try to get my legs higher each time. I do the same thing back but have my foot touch my butt instead. This stretches the legs out and is a big help.

These two images are of me throwing. Normally I like to throw at least 150-200 times. Normally I will throw with Baseball Joe. On weekends Erik Jabs and Nick Pelescak will throw with me. Ian Weir will sometimes throw with me. This obviously gets the glove working and also keeps that arm loose.

Often times, I will go down the steps by the Clemente Gate and I will search for baseballs in something called the razor grass. Don’t be fooled by the picture, the grass grows quickly and come June it is full so many more baseballs are stored there. You never know if you can find one down there so I will go down there and take a peek.

These two pictures involve something I occasionally do as well. If I am bored or something comes up, I will stay on the riverwalk and see if any baseballs bounce out of the ballpark. This is most possible when a power lefty such as Pedro Alvarez or Garrett Jones comes up. The first picture is an example of a potential position and the second is a renactment of trapping a ball that could bounce into the razor grass or making a slide catch.

I sometimes try to seek shelter if it gets really warm outside. The Pirates Clubhouse Store is one of the spots I use, and it is nice and cool in there which allows for much less sweat. I also get to talk to a lot of the people in there and have a lot of fun interactions with some of the workers. I also look around to see if I can find any good deals.

All in all, everything is an adventure, and regardless of whether 4:30, 5:00 or whatever time comes around this kind of workout stays the same or at least relatively simpler. I hope you see that I put a lot of preparation in so that what that gate opens I am prepared to have a good showing and make myself and The Children’s Institute happy for my charity initiative. I hope that you got something out of this post to see how hard I can work (I don’t see many others putting in nearly as much work) or if you want some ideas. This work has helped me catch 206 baseballs, helped me build friendships and interact with the players. Doing this makes me feel like a Major Leaguer, and many of them do similar stretches to what I do so when I interact with many of them, a huge level of respect comes from me right from the start.

Again, I hope that you enjoyed this post and I thank you for reading all of my posts this week and hope to have some more content for you next week.

2 Comments

Nice post Zac. Its good to see you blogging through the winter, even though there’s no games to go to.

Warming up during a game definitely helps get the blood moving. I’ve had some big games after having a catch on the bridge with you or Nick. Your usage of pictures is great too, hopefully you keep using them to enhance your blog entries.

Thanks Erik. I give you complete credit for the idea of this post. Yes I put a lot of prep work into the day of the game. I just hope that the rain comes after the homestands are over so that we could actually get BP every so often. I give total credit to you for pictures. Obviously in this instance I used them so that people could get a better sense of what I am talking about. I tried to re-enact everything the best that I could, however with it raining decently out there it was hard in some spots.

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