How to get the most out of your baseball off-season
It’s been a long summer of baseball and it is time to start thinking about your offseason!
In an ideal world you would play another sport. This would be a great opportunity to give your body (and mind) a break from the baseball specific patterns that you’ve locked in for the past 6 months.
The athletic diversity you acquire from playing different sports will enhance your athleticism and durability both of which will help you maximize your baseball specific potential.
On the other end of the spectrum are the athletes that play fall ball and continue unimpeded with hitting and pitching lessons throughout the off-season. Definitely not the routes you want to be on if you plan on playing the sport at a high level (HS Varsity, Select Travel, College).
And then there is the middle ground that really gets you nowhere and that’s just “chillin” until try-outs come around in March.
Offseason training programs can provide a golden opportunity that many players do not take advantage of at the start of the offseason. Think of it as setting the foundation to prepare your body to get the most out of your offseason training.
Here are the first 2 of my 4 recommendations to get the most out of the start of your baseball offseason training.
Take Time Off From Skill Work
One of the most important aspects to the start of the baseball offseason is to take a step back and get away from baseball. While this may seem counterintuitive, I do believe it is critical to your long-term success.
Between traveling teams, tournaments, showcases, and grinding away at practice, the summer is almost as busy as the pro players! I actually joke with some of my high school baseball athletes that they can’t wait to go back to school to take a vacation from their summer baseball travel schedule!
But there are important physical benefits of taking time off as well. Throwing a baseball is hard on your body and creates cumulative stress. Furthermore, several studies have been published showing that the more your pitch, the greater your chances of injury:
Pitching for greater than 8 months out of the year results in 5x as many injuries (Olsen AJSM 06)
Pitching greater than 100 innings in one year results in 3x as many injuries (Fleisig AJSM 2011)
Pitching in showcases and travel leagues significantly correlated to increased injuries (Register-Mahlick JAT 12, Olsen AJSM 06)
I have found that my younger athletes that play a sport like soccer in the fall tend to look better to me over time. Sure, that is purely anecdotal. But specializing in a very unilateral sport may actually limit some of your athletic potential, especially when you are in the certain age ranges where athletic development occurs. Everything is baseball tends to be to one side. Righties always rotate to the left when throwing and swinging, heck everyone even runs to the left around the bases!
Not only are these movements occurring at a high frequency to the same side over and over they also happen insanely fast!
Biomechanical analysis of a baseball swing reveals maximum pelvis rotational velocities of up to 714 degrees per second (Welch JOSPT 1995)
There is plenty of time to get ready for next spring. Take some time off in the fall and let your body heal up. You aren’t going to forget how to hit, pitch or lose your release point or feel. You’ll come back stronger next season.
Focus on Small Hinges That Swing Big Doors
You were likely on the road all summer living out of a mini-van or cheap hotels all the while slamming quick but empty sources of nutrition like candy bars, Gatorade and Subway/McDonald’s.
It’s time to let replenish your body with plenty of the essentials:
Carry a water bottle with you at all times and start and finish the day with a full glass.
High quality sleep
Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Shut off the technology 30 minutes before bed and keep your room cool and super dark.
The focus here is on eating real food as often as possible. Stuff in a box or a pouch is not real food! Start every meal with something that is an animal (chicken, beef, pork) or comes from an animal (eggs, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt). Then eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables with every meal. Add whole grains like oats, brown rice, quinoa and sweet potatoes especially if you are trying to add muscle mass. Snack on things like nuts, fruit, and beef jerky. Use protein bars and powders only when you don’t have any other options. They are better than fast/snack food but real food provides the building blocks to strong/athletic bodies!
Take advantage of the time with no/light baseball activity by hitting the books as hard as you hit or throw the baseball. D1 college baseball has only 12.6 scholarships to offer. Full rides are rare but you can always find academic dollars to help make up the difference. More importantly baseball may help you get into a school you may not otherwise be able to attend. Learn how to study now so if you do get a “special” opportunity to attend a great university you’re prepared to handle the academic rigors.
The top two recommendations (take time of from baseball and take care of the basics) are well within your control and you can start right now! This won’t be easy but consider it part of the mind-set training you will absolutely need to achieve success on the field of play and in the game of life.
I will get the rest of my off-season recommendations to you later this week. Until then do the simple things savagely well!