Top 5 baseball off-season must dos, no excuses

With the World Series just around the corner, October marks the sprint to the finish from a long and grueling season of professional baseball…and for many of our high school and middle school players, the season was a long one as well. October also marks the start of our busiest time of the year as an influx of regional middle and high school baseball players, as well as our professional players, begin to arrive for their offseason strength and conditioning training. There are many considerations that need to be addressed after a long season but for the scope of this article we will cover the Top 5.

  •  Set up the schedule: If you fail to plan you are planning to fail. Every player comes to the offseason with their own individual skill set and past playing history. Some minor league guys are in the Fall instructional leagues until mid October. We have high school pitchers who complied over 130 innings. Some guys will stay around until big league camps begin in February while other minor league players will stick around until March. Area high school (and some middle school ) players will want to spend all winter with “pitching lessons,” while other athletes will play a winter sport with limited time to devote to an offseason baseball program. Every player has an individual time table with which to work. Individualized program design becomes paramount. Players, parents and coaches need to collaborate on all aspects of development and dedicate adequate time to see progress.
  • Regain Cuff strength / stability: During a long season it’s very challenging to maintain rotator cuff strength. The biggest struggle I see is for the middle and high school players who are playing more and more innings (and throwing more pitches with less rest than many pro players) but lack the formal training to stay healthy. Many pro players will take 2-4 months off from throwing so this window becomes critical for regaining cuff strength with the right mix of proper training volumes, sound nutrition, rest and recovery. I recommend the same for our middle and high school players.
  • Regain Dynamic Stabilization of the Scapula: The eccentric (deceleration) stress placed on the body during throwing can dramatically effect the performance of the scapula. Many players will spend time focusing on rotator cuff strength, but neglect the muscles that stabilize the scapula. These muscles will generally fatigue before the cuff does. The result is faulty throwing mechanics. The rotator cuff needs a sound and stable base from which to generate force, power and speed, so a complete shoulder program will spend adequate time on both the rotator cuff and the scapular stabilizers.
  • Limit The Plyos And Get Strong: The bread and butter for any ball player is their arm health, but with that being said make no mistake that the global focus of any player should be to GET STRONG in the off season. Yes it’s important to address all the areas of weakness in and around the shoulder, but overall power and speed comes from getting stronger. Pitchers want more velocity on the fastball and position players want the arm strength as well as speed and power in the swing. Many coaches are anxious to hit the weights and start throwing medicine balls around. The “buzz” is now plyometircs or reactive training to achieve performance. Let me be clear. Controlling volume and intensity within a traditional strength program involving variations of upper and lower body pushing, pulling and core work will be the critical component to performance gains in the off season. We tend to hold off on aggressive sprinting, jumping and rotational med ball work until the players have a few weeks of global strength under their belts. After a long season with players pushing the limits with excessive trunk rotation, we tend to focus on anti-rotation components of the core and frontal plane strength work. There is a time and place for “plyos” and reactive work but it is not the focus of our offseason program design.
  • Normalizing Food and Feet: Let’s start with nutrition. The goal for any athlete is to maintain a healthy diet of whole foods. This is can be a tough task for minor league guys on the road as well as for high school players in a summer league (working all day and playing at night). Traveling and fast food can sap the body of nutrients, add on fat weight and contribute to a depletion of lean body mass. All of our guys begin the offseason training program by completing a 3 day diet log. Upon reviewing their documentation it allows us to make recommendations with food selection, meal frequency and if there are any gaps, discuss supplementation options. With a long season spent standing in spikes that limit foot and ankle mobility our goal is to get them is a minimalist cross training shoe such as the New Balance Minimus. Better foot and ankle mobility can do wonders when it comes to taking excess stress off the the knees, hips and back in the weight room.

As I mentioned in the beginning of the article, there are many considerations to be addressed when planning an off season strength training program, we just touched on five of those.

For an in-depth consultation on how we can help you plan a productive off season please contact Steve Conca at Steve@concaSportandFintess.com (413)-304-2350. of visit www.ConcaSportAndFitness.com

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