Baseball Planning: Off-Season
Now that summer ball is over, you’re probably thinking: well, now what?
For some, the Fall gives an opportunity to further showcase yourself in front of coaches.
The Fall also gives an opportunity for you to re-program your body and reach a new peak of athletic development.
If you’re a guy who didn’t get much playing time, there are two options to choose from: play fall ball (working on athletic skills) or develop in the weight room (working on athletic qualities).
I’ve written about the Off-Season once before, and my ideas still remain the same:
You’re probably enjoying the time off from all baseball activity. Give your body and your brain the rest that it needs
Your arm may be hurting, and it may not be either. BUT, regardless of your situation, I think it would be best to not throw for a while. Obviously, you don’t really have a choice if you are a college player. In the perfect world (most High School kids), you could be taking off at least 2 months from throwing altogether.
NOW is the time to work on your specific needs. In a general sense, players should be working on attacking mobility concerns, gaining some mass/losing some mass, and getting stronger (in that order).
ASSESS and EVALUATE where you are in the fitness-fatigue paradigm.
However, there are a few things I may add.
The evaluation process is critically important in this period of time. This is where we can see how your body moves, how it is feeling, and assess your true strengths and weaknesses.
I believe the most important assessment for pitchers at the beginning of the off-season is rotator cuff strength. This could be a determining factor if you even play fall ball or not.
With all these opinions thrown to the side, there are a few things that we are trying to develop from a performance standpoint.
Active Rest is Active Rest
I’ll give a real-life example. It was August 25th and I saw a team practicing in the building. I noticed that we train one of the kids on this team, so he started to approach me so we could have a conversation.
I asked him, “are you guys practicing for a tournament?”
He replied, “No, this is for fall-ball”.
I paused for a second and thought to myself, so when did these kids ever take a break? A few days? Certainly as you can tell, this is not a real break.
Just because you have maybe 2 weeks off, doesn’t mean that taking additional swings in the cage for an extended period of time is “active rest”. The FIRST step in this is putting your glove away, and getting a baseball out of your sight.
Play different sports. Enjoy the outside in your bare feet. Find some adventurous things to do with your friends. Remain to be active, but not through baseball. I promise you, this is the right thing to do if you’re playing fall ball.
Even if you’re NOT playing fall ball, it’s important to rest before you start your off-season training.
Taking the First Step in Training
The first step is actually pretty easy: goal-setting. Once you have a certain vision in sight, that only makes the beginning of your training that much easier (and for your coaches).
Think about how the summer season went, but NOT from a statistical standpoint.
Rather, think about how your body felt and how you physically performed each day.
For example, if you’re a pitcher, did you often struggle in the first few innings? Did you get stronger throughout the game? Did your velocity die out around a specific inning? Was there a point in time where you were feeling more sore than usual? Were you unable to mentally lock in during the first few innings?
If you’re a position player, did you often struggle to feel “warmed up” before some games? Every game? Did you feel quick, or slow? Did you have an approach at the plate, or in the on-deck circle? Was your arm feeling tired in the field?
These are ALL very important and specific questions because this will dictate how you start your off-season training.
Now is the time where we re-condition the entire body, attack some mobility restrictions, and slowly start to layer on some strength on top of your current dysfunctions without interfering with these dysfunctions.
Fall Ball vs. Development
If you’re stuck between playing fall ball and training, here are a few things to consider:
- What are YOUR top priorities? List them from most important to least important
- Once you determine these priorities, determine how much time is needed to devote to these priorities
- If you chose that playing fall ball and getting recruited is more important, then maybe you could train one day during the week, preferably earlier on, so that nothing interferes with your competition play
- If you think both fall ball and working on your development is important, you could choose between training 1-2 times per week
- If you chose that developing your athletic qualities is more important than fall ball, then I would train at least twice a week, and just know that your competition play may be compromised
In a few weeks we will cover what to focus on at the start of an off-season as we continue along the Baseball Periodization Calendar.
If you want to train with me, visit the Infiniti Performance website so we can get you going!
Jarad Vollkommer, CSCS