All good athletes use a warm-up routine one hour before they play. Besides helping you get loose and limber, a warm-up routine has several psychological advantages. The first is that it helps you get focused to play. A warm-up routine helps click in your concentration and put on your game face. It is similar to a runner who stretches before a run or a pilot who performs a checklist to make sure everything is in good order before take-off.
Second, this is an excellent time to put the concerns of your life behind you and prepare for the game. A warm-up routine is a good transition between your everyday life and baseball. Many people play a sport to distract them from pressures in everyday life such as work or school. Use the warm-up to put these pressures behind you. Once you tie on your baseball shoes and put you cap on, it’s time to think baseball.
Most players start their warm-up by doing some simple stretches alone or in a team setting. During that time, you want to release the past and start to focus on baseball. You should be doing more than just going through the physical motions of the warm-up. You also want to do the warm up with intensity and focus—a mental routine of sorts.
Remember that the warm-up is just a warm-up and not a “practice session.” The major goal of warm-ups is to loosen-up your muscles and focus the mind. It’s too late to work on mechanics during the warm-up. Trying to “fix” errors before play can actually hurt your game. You won’t correct the problem in 20 minutes and you certainly won’t be able to ingrain the change in your memory.
The best you can do now is work on your at-bat routine just like it was the real thing during batting practice. The same goes for infield and outfield practice. Make it count; don’t just go through the motions.
Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t perform well during your warm-up. Some athletes just don’t perform well in warm-ups. Have confidence that your game will be there in the first inning