If you really want to impress your coaches and teammates, be the player who packs a sledgehammer in their bag. By utilizing the sledgehammer to perform some old school manual labor drills, you’ll develop your hand and forearm strength and maybe earn a cool nickname in the process. The Hammer? Popeye? Old School? The Repo-Man?
There are a number of valuable drills an athlete can exercise with a sawed-off sledgehammer:
1) From a standing position, grasp the handle of the sledgehammer in reverse grip with the head of the hammer behind you. Raise and lower the head through full range of motion and repeat with the other hand.
2) Grip the handle with head in front of you, then raise and lower the head through full range of motion.
3) Sitting on edge of chair, hold the handle with your thumb up and lower the sledgehammer clockwise and counterclockwise stopping at 0 and 180 degrees. Be careful not to overrate, that could lead to an injury.
These are few drills to perform with a sledgehammer, but the exercises don’t stop there. With a pioneer spirit and a little imagination, the possibilities are endless. This type of training is ideal for athletes ages 14 and older. It can be instrumental to an athlete’s bat speed, strength and conditioning.
It’s very important that an athlete performs these exercises for both arms, not just their dominant hand. You don’t want to walk around all lopsided. These exercises should be done 3-4 times a week or every other day. When my old travel ball coach introduced these exercises to the team, we not only got very strong, but we also felt like this type of preparation gave us an edge. No one else was doing it.
We'd bring several of these sledgehammers on the road and our team would get our forearm work in at the end of the games, after our wind sprints. Often times the opposing team would look at us like we were nuts, but it felt good and we loved it. Players that weren't playing that day would do them during the game in the dugout. This is a perfect example of never wasting an opportunity to get better.
Don’t be afraid to start the sledgehammer trend on your team. When your teammates see the hand and forearm strength being developed, along with the increased bat speed, they’ll be shopping the hardware store for their own.