Gametime may still be a few months away, but that doesn’t mean your baseball team should rest on their laurels from the previous year and avoid training in the offseason. In fact, now is the time where key foundational work needs to be completed; the work that can make or break your team come mid-post season.
Let us not forget that proper rest and recovery is paramount to success in any athletic pursuit. However, too much relaxation during this pivotal time of year could spell disaster later on.
After an appropriate amount of time to recover from previous seasons, athletes need to once again complete the exercises necessary to hit the ground running once it’s gametime. This includes basic strength training and core work, conditioning, and flexibility training. To help your athletes prepare, we have listed out a basic training guide for you to use, so your team can show up on opening day ready to play.
Baseball Strength Training
We understand that not every little league player has access to a gym. However, the effectiveness of an at-home, bodyweight strength training program is well proven, and can still provide great strength improvements.
Something as simple as performing push-ups, bodyweight squats, and abdominal crunches for 2-5 sets, 10-20 reps per set (dependent on athletic experience level) can stress the system into adaptation. If a greater challenge is needed, there are dozens of ways to safely and cheaply instruct your athlete to add resistance to these movements:
– Perform squats while holding 1-2 milk jugs filled with water
– Perform push-ups with a variety of different hand positions (i.e., wide-hands, standard, close-hands, etc.)
– Perform abdominal crunches with their legs up on a chair to mimic decline crunches
Offseason baseball workouts are not supposed to be complex, and are simply to build basic strength before more sport-specific training occurs. With a little imagination (and some help from YouTube), you can create an effective strength training program for your baseball athletes.
Baseball Conditioning Drills
3. Complete a 5-10 minute easy jogging cool down, followed by a 5-10 minute static stretching routine.
Although baseball athletes are not required to have the endurance of a marathon runner, establishing the aerobic conditioning necessary to keep energy levels high and complete 7-9 innings of play needs to be a focal point in any training program. In addition, sprint training is a must for anyone looking to round the bases as quickly as possible, or to chase down a pop-fly out in left field.
The biggest bang-for-your-buck baseball conditioning drill involves high intensity interval training. There are numerous different ways to structure a baseball interval program; below we have shared one that makes sense for off-season training. This includes:
1. 5-10 minute easy jogging warm-up, followed by 5-10 minutes of sport-specific dynamic stretches
2. Because each base in a baseball diamond is 90 feet apart, have your athletes complete sprints of varying distances (90 feet, 180 feet, 270 feet, 360 feet) to simulate what it would be like to sprint for those distances. Ensure they mimic the stance they would be in at the start of each sprint (i.e., batter position and / or on-base stance). Also ensure that they have the proper rest after each effort, at a run to rest ratio of 1:12/20 (i.e., for every ten seconds of maximal effort sprinting, allow anywhere from 2-4 minutes of rest).
Baseball Flexibility Training
Flexibility and mobility training for baseball players is essential for keeping your athletes healthy all season long. Think of the amount of force experienced at an athlete’s shoulder joint every time they throw the ball. Now imagine that force experienced at the joint hundreds of thousands of times over the course of a season. Without the proper shoulder mobility to perform the throw properly, in addition to the strength necessary to execute the movement, your athletes can risk serious injury.
Thankfully, achieving proper joint range of motion and flexibility in baseball players can be achieved with a relatively simple exercise program. Click here for stretching and mobility exercise inspirtation that can easily be shared with your athletes.
The real hurdle to overcome is engraining this simple program into your athlete’s program, and holding them accountable for doing it consistently. Reinforcing its importance, and establishing this routine as an essential part of training will be key to the long-term health and success for your team.
How to Structure Your Offseason Baseball Workout
This will vary based on the age and experience of your athletes. Younger, less experienced individuals will require more time between hard sessions to allow for proper recovery, while your older, more experienced athletes can likely push themselves a bit more. The key is to structure these offseason baseball workouts in a way that optimizes strength gains, allows for proper recovery, and, most importantly, makes training fun.
For younger athletes, they may get all the exercise they need from 1-2 strength sessions and 1-2 conditioning sessions per week (with at least 48-72 hours in between like sessions), and at least 2-3 flexibility sessions per week. Understand that young athletes are already energetic and active, and will more than likely be motivated to go out and play on their own outside of baseball training. For young baseball players, these workouts are more meant to be used as a way to teach the basics.
Exercise programs for older athletes will vary based on experience and ability. For some, following the same routine as the younger athletes will be enough to elicit adaptations. For others, aiming for 2-3 strength and 2-3 conditioning sessions per week (with at least 48 hours between like sessions), and 3-5 stretching sessions per week might be more appropriate.
The volume and frequency of offseason baseball workouts will vary heavily between athletes, their abilities, and on what the individual has access to at home (i.e., will they be required to do bodyweight exercises, or do they have access to gym / exercise equipment?). Remember that the best training programs are as customized for the individual as possible, to match their individual needs.
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