Training Day

It takes talent to make the big time, but, more than that, it takes hard work. Even when athletes reach the professional level, they still need to work on improving their skills. Most of the time, this involves the usual activities - running, lifting weights and practice. But every once in awhile we come across athletes who perform some pretty strange training routines! Here are some of our favorites:

Shoeless Joe Jackson: Joe Jackson was a great baseball player for the Philadelphia Athletics, Cleveland Naps and Chicago White Sox between 1908 and 1920. Ballplayers need excellent eyesight, and they say nobody had better vision than Shoeless Joe. In order to strengthen the muscles in his eyes, Jackson used to cover one eye and stare at a candle with the other until it started getting blurry. Then he'd switch eyes. This exercise helped Shoeless Joe see the ball better than any other hitter of his era, and he finished his career with a lifetime batting average of over .350.

Gregg Jefferies: This utility fielder came up with the New York Mets in the late 1980s, and then played for a number of other teams until he retired in 2000. While Jefferies may not be the most memorable player in the game, one of his training routines is. Jefferies had an extremely quick bat, thanks to his powerful forearms. He worked his arm muscles by swinging a bat under water! He would stand in a pool and swing the bat as hard as he could, with the water providing natural resistance.

Tiki Barber: While he was playing for the New York Giants from 1997 to 2007, Barber was one of the strongest running backs in the NFL. During the offseason, Barber stayed in shape by doing much more than just hitting the weight room. Barber used to drive into the nearby mountains and run up incredibly steep hills! No matter how tired he got running in the mountains, Barber would try to keep his legs moving. This prepared him for the season, when he would keep his legs moving to avoid would-be tacklers.

Staying in shape doesn't have to be tedious. There's plenty of room for creativity, so work with a coach or parent to come up with some different ways to improve your game!

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