In-Season Maintenance vs. Development

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Arguing the Continuation of Training In-Season
As I’m writing this article, I can’t help but notice the amount of snow I see on the ground and the calendar in front of my face reads April 2nd.
I think it’s time for a change in the northeast. Instead of starting practices on March 5/6 and rushing to get in a bunch of practices and scrimmages in, we can push the start of the season back for another 2 weeks or so. Here’s why.
For most kids, when March hits, the only thing they think about is digging their cleats into the field, and training goes to the back burner.
However, there is an In-Season training phase for a reason. Stopping training altogether will NOT benefit your body. Adding in this extra 2 weeks of development can be a game changer for most of these kids.

More likely than not, if you stop training altogether, you’re actually hurting it. Here’s an analogy.

Imagine a sports car getting serviced. You spend all of this time putting the newest tires on, most upgraded engine in, high-efficient fueling in, and then you get it ready for the road. This “road” is your season.

Eventually, at some point, you’re going to need to get your car checked again to make sure everything is near 100%.

If you go the entire season without training, you’re going to slowly lose the athletic qualities that you spent all of this time developing even though you’re spending a lot of time on the diamond.

Athletic SKILLS will stay competent throughout the season for obvious reasons, but it’s important to maintain or further develop athletic QUALITIES.

To fully understand why we need to train during the season, let’s talk about training residuals, common misconceptions, and continuing your athletic development


Training Residuals

When training for sport, we are trying to develop specific athletic qualities: anaerobic and aerobic energy systems, strength, power, speed, force reduction, and visuomotor skills (to name a few).

These athletic qualities have “residual” training effects.

To put this into a simple analogy, think about a still pond of water. When you throw a rock into the water, you can clearly see the ripple effect taking place. This ripple starts off strong and then slowly starts to fade out until the pond returns back to baseline (its stillness).

Think of your body as this pond. The first ripple you see is energy system development. One throw of a rock will leave this ripple in the pond for the longest amount of time, and is the last one to “fade out”.

The next ripple you will see is strength development, and this is the ripple that “fades out” before energy system development.

The ripple that comes and goes the quickest is POWER.

Wait a second…

You’re telling me that if I stop training altogether, the first thing to go is my power output? Isn’t my sport HIGHLY dependent upon my power output?

The answer is yes, and this is the reason why In-Season training is not only for maintenance purposes, but it is for FURTHER athletic development!


Common Misconceptions

A lot of kids fear about in-season training because of 2 factors:

  1. “I don’t want to be sore when I play”

  2. “I don’t want to feel tired when I play”

To tackle misconception #1, I want to highlight repetition prescription.

If we tell you to perform an exercise for 12-15 repetitions, that will mostly likely induce soreness.

If we tell you to perform an exercise with a very slow eccentric (lowering) movement, that will most likely induce soreness.

If we introduce a completely new movement for your body to figure out, that will most likely induce soreness.

We want to think about movement quality when performing any given exercise. Whether it be for strength or for power, there is a different physiological output we are trying to achieve during the season than in the off-season.

If you were consistent with your training in the off-season, you won’t magically become sore when the season starts. This is a huge misconception, and this one misconception alone steals a lot of guys from maintaining their performance in-season.

To tackle misconception #2, I want to talk about the concept of auto regulation.

We can look back at past programs to get a gross number of stress and soreness to see how we can manipulate your new training program.

We want YOUR voice to be the most important during the season. This concept is called autoregulation.

In brief, by listening to your body every day, we can determine how to tackle your program. Do you feel ready to crush some trap bar deadlifts for speed? Then do it.

Do you feel ready to get some heavy pressing movements in? Then do it.

Not only do we construct your program as sports performance coaches, but it’s completely based on your voice. We will provide numerous amounts of options for you any given training day, and this is how you will a) further develop during the season and b) get even stronger during the season.

Research has shown that the use of autoregulation in comparison to a strict linear program can further increase strength gains with less total work being performed.

Within this auto-regulated model, we consider where you are in the Absolute Speed-Absolute Strength continuum. Providing your training within the speed-strength and strength-speed realms will protect your body from injury and increase your performance.

You can say “finish strong” as much as you want, but until you fully buy into the concept of actually finishing the season as strong as you started, then get into the training room!


Further Athletic Development

If you aspire to be a collegiate or professional baseball player one day, you have to understand that your program is most likely going to have a strength and conditioning program. This means in-season training is your bread and butter.

I will tell you that 100% of the athletes that participate in an in-season program will attribute their success to this program.

College and professional players still train during the season!

Obviously, the amount of volume (work density) that is performed will be significantly different than the off-season. Our main goal as performance coaches is to enhance your performance. Pretty obvious, right?

We can still get you stronger and more explosive during the season when we work around your playing schedule.

For example, let’s say you throw on Monday. Within 24 hours (Monday or Tuesday) is when you should get your lift in, and this day will be of the highest demand on your body. In that same respect, we think it’s important to reset your nervous system so you feel fresher during the week.

That leaves us either Wednesday or Thursday to get your second training day in. This day will have a total body focus, while attacking your specific mobility and stability concerns.

In this specific model, we are still developing your strength and power qualities as an athlete, all while maintaining fatigue as well.

By the way, rather than an intense 70-minute session that you were used to now condenses to 35-40 minutes. The remaining 25-30 minutes will be focused on a nervous system reset and getting your body back to baseline, which will absolutely be higher than it was in the beginning of the off-season.

Hopefully by now, you understand why it is imperative to train in-season. To sum it all up, here are some key points:

– Training in-season manages fatigue and a decrease in training residuals

– Auto-Regulation is not meant to induce soreness, rather listening to your body and giving it what it really needs based on the individual

– There is still a huge training window that is open. You can still develop into an even stronger athlete in-season


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