Baseball in March – Let’s Not Get ahead of Ourselves

By Nunzio Signore (BA, CPT, CSCS, NASM, PES, FMS)

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The beginning of baseball season is an exciting time. Unfortunately, it’s also a time when many ball players shoot themselves in the foot.  Let me explain.  Once we get to March and tryouts begin, many players view this as the beginning of the baseball season, and unfortunately, also see it as a cue to stop strength training.

Now you and I both know that a large part of baseball in March includes sitting on the bench waiting for your day to get your reps on the mound and jogging on those days off.  So, including March as part of the baseball “season” and a reason to stop strength training is a bit of a cop out. Remember strength losses begin to accumulate within 2-3 weeks after strength training stops and this is compounded by sitting around a lot in a kyphotic posture in the dugout.  Sooner or later this will affect the mobility that we worked so hard to attain in the off-season.

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So when I get the usual questions from parents and athletes regarding strength training once the season begins, my response is simple… “the season begins in April”.

Also let me say this, practices and playing are ABSOLUTELY NOT the same as training.  Pitchers lose anywhere from 5-10 degrees of IR (internal rotation) during an outing.  Training 1-2 x’s per week will not only help you maintain your strength, it will guarantee that you’re getting in the necessary mobility work to get those 10 degrees back before you pitch again. Maintaining that IR while your ER (external rotation) increases naturally from throwing will give you more total range of motion at the shoulder, a sure recipe for maintaining velocity throughout the season.

A good in-season training program should be designed to maintain your strength and mobility without creating any residual soreness that could affect on-field performance. Basically, if you are playing baseball without strength training you’ll end up in late spring considerably weaker than you were when the season started in March.  As always, safety and form is of the utmost importance.  So, if your workouts aren’t being monitored by a professional coach or trainer, please leave it alone. Remember the benefit has to be worth the risk and nothing is worth getting injured, period.

The reality is many high school players, between after school practices and school work, can’t get to the gym more than 2x per week. In this case, we recommend 2 full-body strength training sessions per week.  These workouts do not include conditioning work (athletes will get enough movement during the week at practice, doing sprint work, fielding ground balls and warm-ups).  With pitchers, we would optimally like to see them at RPP the day after throwing so we can account for a majority of their weekly training/playing stress within a 24-hour period.  This allows them to have time to recover in between starts. We can also make sure that they are doing their mobility and soft tissue (foam rolling) work correctly.

Remember, it’s not about who’s the strongest, it’s about who stays the strongest all season.

See ya’ in the gym…

 

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