How to Stay in Shape w/ In-season Workouts During Summer Ball

in-season workouts

Summer is recruiting season for most high school ball players, and they obviously need to perform at their best.  However, it is important to understand that while playing baseball makes athletes better at playing baseball from a technical viewpoint, it does not help them get stronger or able to maintain specific training adaptations as the season progresses. This is generally due to the fact that…

    • There is limited time available
    • Schedules can be a bit hectic and sporadic
    • Days are spent on the road in hotels with limited or no training facilities

Consequently, staying consistent with a weekly training program becomes almost impossible.

In order to keep up with the demands of the summer season, today we’re going to review a few things travel coaches can do to help their young athletes with recovery, while maintaining their strength and mobility throughout the season (with very limited equipment, 2x per week).

When it comes to selecting effective exercise and drill work, the biggest hurdle for most coaches is understanding training residuals.

Training Residuals – To create a successful in-season program, the first step is to understand that the attributes that playing the game help develop differ from what the athlete needs to be continuing to perform at a high level.

Training residuals represent the length of time a specific adaptation stays with the athlete once the training stimulus is removed (and competition / games begin). The table below shows the training residual time frame of specific adaptations (Issurin 2008), or, in other words, how long a particular adaptation stays with the athlete once game play begins and training drops off.

Training Residuals

Because competition and practices during the season limit the time that can be devoted to training, these adaptations must all be trained together week to week, day to day, or sometimes even within the same day.

in-season workouts

Note that the first two adaptive qualities, aerobic strength / endurance and maximal strength, last longer once training stops and playing begins. As a result, they do not need to be trained as frequently as other traits such as power, power endurance and speed (note: speed training is not included in this article due to the fact that it is addressed (or should be!) daily in game as well as in practice).  Furthermore, since some amount of sprint work is generally performed at practice, it is not often included as part of an in-season training program.

Different traits dominate different sports and in the game of baseball and

    • Mobility
    • Core
    • Max strength
    • Power / Power endurance

are the traits that need to be trained the most during the season.

Below, is a check list of traits to be included weekly to keep guys fresh and consistent throughout the entire season. I have used exercises that require very limited equipment, so they can be performed while on the field or in hotel rooms.

The summary and programming below is appropriate for ages 13 and older.  If you’re 16 or older with weight room experience, you should probably hit the weight room during the season and use free weights instead of the programming outlined below.

So, let’s get into it.

Mobility – Athletes don’t just get hurt in-season because they lose strength; they generally get hurt because they lose mobility. The amount of sitting and standing during summer games can do a real number on losses in mobility. What we do know about throwing a baseball is that if throwing-specific mobility is impaired, velocity and control will be compromised. This can present itself anywhere on the body, but the big topics for baseball are the hips and t-spine, and glenohumeral mobility/stability.

Hip Mobility – The hips can get a bit gritty from sprinting as well as posting-up this one adds in a bit of arm care at the same time.

(Bowler Squat to Rev Row)

T-Spine Mobility – In a rotational sport maintaining t-spine mobility is king.

(Band Ass T-spine Mob)

Glenohumeral Mobility / Stability – Band pull aparts help restore movement back into the scapula after throwing.

(Diagonal Band Pull Aparts)

A side note on band work – I believe in band work. However, I also believe that many ball players overdo band work at the field. There is an outrageous amount of eccentric stress that’s placed on the arm during throwing already, so adding more band work to your summer arm care can put a player’s arm in the third inning before he’s even thrown a pitch. For a complete article on band work click here. That being said here are 2 that get the job done as long as we don’t overdo it (2 sets 10-12 reps per)

(Retraction to Low Row)

(Tricep Extension to Pronation)

Core – Not to beat a dead horse but everyone talks about the importance of a strong core and for good reason. The core has a positive impact on breathing/endurance, helps transfer force from the lower body to the upper body (yes that means throwing velo and running speed to name a few) and helps reduce the risk of such overuse injuries in-season as low back pain and yes even shoulder problems.

(Dead Bugs)

(Rev Alligator Walks)

Strength / Power Training – More is not always better. Balancing your strength and mobility training volume with practices and games is crucial. Rarely will an in-season strength training program session last more than 35-40 minutes.  It’s usually roughly 10-14 sets worth of work.  Add upfront warm-up and you’re talking about 50-55 minutes in total.  When a weight room is not available, the big players as far as training adaptations to focus on are on the power side during in-season.

Power – This is taking max strength and getting “fast” with it (6 sets x 3 reps-1-2 min rest between sets).

(Band Resisted Squat)

(Band Ass Push-ups)

This drill can do wonders for getting in and out of the front leg efficiently while working upper body power at the same time.

(Split Stance Low Band Row)

Power Endurance – Once we have power, we need to produce it on and off again over the course of a few hours (2 series of 6 sets x 3 reps/side – 30 – 40 rest between sets).

(Split Squat Jumps)

(45 Degree Bound and Stick)

No Distance Running – By using a repetitive motion like jogging for an extended period, pitchers lose mobility in their hips. As we all know, human beings get good at what we practice; baseball players need to sprint!   Enough said.

If you have decided that playing summer ball is the right decision given your circumstances and is a good fit for you, by all means do so. But at the same time maintaining and even increasing strength is paramount to combat overuse, summer heat and dropping velos.  Here is a quick summary…

Top to bottom this in-season workout should take 50-55 minutes.

See ya’ in the gym…

By Nunzio Signore (Owner and Operator RPP Baseball)


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