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In-Season Strength and Conditioning Training For Baseball and Softball

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In Season Strength and Conditioning Training For Baseball & Softball

By Kyle Harris

When it comes to strength and conditioning in the baseball and softball world, too many coaches are stuck in the dark ages.  The good news is that truth is slowly working its way into more and more programs across the country, which will only lead to greater player development and a decrease in injuries.  The next step in this process is not only continuing to debunk the myth that in season strength and conditioning training for baseball and softball players is bad or harmful, but to educate the masses and show them why this is crucial to enhance and maintain high performance levels.

Many of the programs that have taken the steps to adopt offseason and preseason strength and conditioning  training tend to stop once the season begins.  This is not only harmful to the players but will also have a significant impact on how they perform on a day to day basis. Certainly there are constraints and obstacles, such as weight room time, greater focus on skill development during practice, and games.  In these instances, athletes enter the season at their strongest and finish their seasons at their weakest. Why would you want your squad to be at their lowest levels of strength during tournament play?  There are a many reasons to continue weight training during the season. Many teams are going to cut out strength and conditioning training and their players are going to be slower and less explosive late in the season.  By continuing to provide a strength stimulus your athletes are going to have a huge advantage over the competition.

Furthermore, the continuation of strength training decreases the risk of injury.  It’s true, the best ability is availability, and in my opinion closely followed by durability and reliability.  Continuing your strength training program during the season will increase your athletes availability, durability, and reliability.  It is our job as coaches to keep our players healthy and strength and conditioning training will do that.

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Many coaches think that strength and conditioning training will lead to decrease in performance and fatigued athletes. This is a common misconception. Continuing strength and conditioning training will keep muscles limber and strong, while enhancing recovery from games, decreasing muscle soreness, and increasing mobility of your athletes.  If we only train during off season periods in high school athletics, our athletes that play multiple sports will have no time or availability to gain strength. High school athletes are hormonally and neurologically set up to gain strength. Even a short, two day per week “maintenance” program will lead to strength gains for almost all high school athletes. If a high school athlete continues to train 3-days per week during their competitive seasons they can increase training days by 80-sessions per year.  That equals 320 extra weight training sessions in their high school career. Even if half of those are subpar the end result is a huge compounding effect on that player’s development. Cut it down to 2-training days per week and we still end up with 50-60 per year and a grand total of 200-240 sessions throughout high school.

As a former high school coach myself, I understand the obstacles of in-season training.  We have so much to accomplish as coaches and games are packed into a very short period of time.  Add in rain outs, and we have weeks where we are playing 6 days in a row. Creativity is key in these situations.  Short morning workouts, weight lifting classes offered by your school, pre game warm-ups that include strength training, post game/weekend lifts can be your best friend.  Since there is so much red tape attached to most high school baseball associations the best way to implement an in-season strength plan might be to start with a 2-day per week program that revolves about around 4-6 moves each training day.  Below are two sample templates, one structured for experienced lifters and one structured for those athletes that have not been accustomed to resistance training.

“You don’t have to have the greatest work capacity to be a successful baseball player. Repeated maximal efforts with adequate rest is pretty sport specific. “ - Austin McBee M.S., C.S.C.S.

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Guest Wednesday, 17 July 2019