The most overlooked period of year for player development is during season. Game performance is often determined from how prepared you are. Why would we begin training less and expecting to perform better? When in-season, the focus shifts from development and preparation to win games. This must change.
Why? Why would we want to be so focused on competition that we actually lose performance enhancers such as strength, speed, mobility, and power? What about the risk for injury? If we are in lesser shape, we are more likely to get injured when competing day after day.
The days of running poles, stretching out, and icing in-season are quickly dying, as they should. Learn more below about in-season development and how to properly manage it below.
Shifting the Focus
This blog agrees with shifting the primary focus to game-day preparedness and health. That means we must train to stay in peak shape. Managing the workload to match game-day freshness is where the money is made. Not training to “avoid soreness” or to not get tired is no excuse. The training that you do in-season should rarely make you sore. If it does, you need to get more prepared in the off-season and/or find a new plan to execute.
With the amount of rotation and stability required in baseball, the training should accompany that overloaded stress.
Here are a few ways to reduce rotational injuries and still develop:
Reduce medicine ball workload. Train movement patterns in low volume with only 5-20 reps a week with high-intensity.
Add anti-rotational exercises and overall volume. These include Palloff Press, Side Planks, Planks with movement, single leg exercises, and partner banded rotations. To maintain health and power with rotation, we must ensure stability in the anti-rotators.
Add more mobility work on hips and low back. These often take the biggest toll in-season, so make sure to include more of it at the key times in-season. Perfect times to add are post-game, days after start, and to the end of every training session.
A yoga session is another good way to promote health, mobility, and stability.
Get Stronger In Season
Yes. You can. The key is to properly manage workload in the weight room with game performance. Don’t just follow any randomized plan that promotes strength development while in-season. Create a plan that prepares you for game-day.
Volume on lifts should be low reps and low volume of high-intensity work. Example: After warm-up, 3 sets of 3-4 reps at 70-72.5% of max on back squat or deadlift. Lowering the overall rep scheme but keeping the intensity after prolonged warm-up can push your strength levels.
Here are more examples and key aspects to managing workload in-season:
Increase time during warm-ups
Increase time in post-workout “cool downs” with breathing exercises, mobility, and stabilization work.
Don’t add any “new” exercises. This can promote soreness. If you don’t typically do single leg half-bosu RDL’s, then don’t add them in-season!
Execute your reps! Full range of motion with proper breathing and tempo will go a long way to stress management in-season.
Track your progress. Write down weights, sleep, and nutrition. If you see a dip in performance, strength, or recovery times you can then make detailed adjustments in your day to day workload.
Add low-stress cardio. Running poles is one way to keep your cardiovascular endurance up in-season, but they may not be the best way. Riding a bike, interval training (low rest times, high-tempo, low weight circuits), jumping rope, incline walking, and swimming can be better options to build endurance and recover.
As mentioned above, add an instructed yoga session 1-2x per week!
Maintain the Mind!
One major reason I believe in getting after it during the season is the stress relief and confidence building that occurs in the weight room. Players perform best when they are confident and clear-minded. No better way to develop, flush, or reset the mind than training off the field. When athletes struggle, the first thing that goes is the mind.
Most in-game performance issues come from clouded minds and distracted thoughts. Keeping a consistent training schedule can help players avoid the mental decline during competition.
Add meditation. Give yourself time to relax. The mind needs time to itself. We begin to press when the mind is overloaded. An easy way to do this is to add it at the end of practices or training sessions. Giving 3-10 minutes of time to be quiet both physically and mentally can make a big difference. Athletes, and coaches, must stay in tune with their breath. The best athletes and programs are often quoted with breathing and/or meditation exercises in their regimen.
Listen to Your Body
The best training plans are ones that can be adjusted. You should train hard in-season. But if the body needs a day to be adjusted, then you adjust it. Coaches and players must be willing to listen to their body in-season. It may mean a day off from swinging, throwing, running, playing in-game, or lifting. While it may mean you lifting on a game day or getting up early to fit that missed workout another day, it may make the difference between healthy and hurt.
Understand the end goal for your season. Championship teams are in the best shape when it matters most. Control what you can control by managing your workout and game schedule the best that you can. There is a difference between toughness and being dumb. Work through the manageable situations. Stop when you need to stop.
Get on a plan. Don’t guess. Plan your training around and inside your game schedule. If the best athletes in the world can lift and train on game days then so can you. This doesn’t mean max out the day of the regional finals. It simply means, don’t make excuses for your development in-season.
If you need help getting on a plan, managing your workload, or have questions about anything player development-please don’t hesitate to e-mail us!