Its a pretty obvious statement to make that staying healthy over the length of a competitive baseball season greatly improves our chances for success. Its alot easier said than done, yes. It also is an area baseball players consistently take for granted. Over and over kids get hurt playing the game they love. Even professionals at the highest level end up hurt from injuries they possibly could have avoided with the right focus.
Since there are a bunch of variables that go into completing a season injury free, you better be controlling the important things that are within your power. To first understand this in its entirety, we must figure out what we can’t control. Events on or off the field that should not absorb our energy and focus. Here’s a short list.
– FREAK INJURIES (rolling an ankle covering first base, getting hit by a line drive off your arm, ect.)
– TEAMMATES SUCCESS OR FAILURE (concerning yourself over whether or not your competition is doing well or not is a waste of time. Always pull for your teammates. Even if they are the ones standing in your way. Rooting against them is bad karma and will zap your energy away from concentrating on what you can control.)
-POOR COACHING OR BAD MANAGERIAL DECISIONS- ( We’ve all been there. Sometimes a coach keeps us in too long or not long enough, doesn’t give us enough time to warmup, or puts someone else in the game instead of you. Again, this is not in our control.)
Its only natural to get pissed off at these such occurrences. Just as easy as it is to get pissed, its easy to get wrapped up in worrying about how these things may or may not affect the outcome of your season. I’m here to tell you that if you can refocus your effort and worry into the things that truly are within your control, you can really start making some serious progress.
So what do we have to do? I know that in order to succeed on the field I must stay healthy, stay sharp with my ability to get guys out, and be ready when called upon to get the job done. Here are three ways to do just that.
1.) Become friends with a foam roller.
Strength, mobility, and stability all matter, but as the season goes along, and the wear and tear starts to set in, even the most elite athletes will start to experience some soft tissue restrictions at some capacity. I’m assuming that most of you won’t have access to a massage or manual therapist 24/7, so making a small investment in a foam roller can go along way in keeping you healthy this year. Check out how to go about rolling in the video below by my strength coaches at Cressey Performance.
2.) Don’t waste throws in practice. I’ve already spoken to this point over at this blog post, but I don’t believe I can overstate how important it is to think of each throw you make as a critical piece to your development. Since we are now in the season, you must take into consideration all the throws you are bound to make during the months to come will add up quickly. With this in mind, our bullpen and practice sessions need to be more straight and to the point. No f****** around! If you have a game tonight, you can’t throw 100 times today. You need to make minor tweaks in a short period of time. My suggestions are as follows for in-season work from a throwing standpoint.
A.) Use dry work, towel drills, or other less stressful ways to fine tune your mechanics.
B.) If you need to work on a pitch or something more substantial in your delivery, be sure to have total focus on what you need to work on before each pitch or throw. Set a number you are comfortable with, and get your work done in those tosses.
3.) Dont piss away the work you did in the off-season. One thing that I’ve come to realize is that you must make the mental and physical distinction between the off-season and season. The off-season and winter months is a time for laying down serious strength, sorting out imbalances, pain, and movement issues accumulated during the previous season. The season is time for you to reap those rewards from the long hours logged in the gym, on the mound, and in the kitchen. This however does not mean we should stop training, eating right, and sleeping well. In fact, it is crucial to maintain these habits during the season. They just might take a different shape. Here are some things to keep in mind.
A.) Get 8 quality hours of sleep each night. Since recovery and bouncing back is the name of the game in baseball, this is where its done. Boozing, staying out late, and getting insufficient sleep might be fun, but it will catch up to you. Get all the quality sleep you can during the season to increase your chances of staying healthy.
B.) Stay on top of getting quality food and supplements. Yes, it might be the case that you’ll find yourself in situations when tremendously good food just isn’t available. When you have the opportunity to cook in bulk, eat a nutritious meal, and knock down your protein powder, multivitamin, fish oil, and vitamin D…make sure to take advantage of that. Make these things readily available as often as possible.
C.) Keep your strength and mobility. With the added stress of games, our training, warmups, and stretching need to take a different form. I’ve found that getting a couple good strength training sessions weekly, a couple sprint sessions weekly, and plenty of mobility work in are the best way for me to stay in great shape in-season. No, I don’t go crazy in the gym like the off-season, but I keep my strength up with a couple fully body training sessions per week. I also try and do mobility stuff twice a day since pitchers tend do a lot of sitting around. Remember the main goal is staying fresh and on the field.
Each one of you are different. You have different bodies, different minds, and different circumstances or situations. In baseball, we can all agree that health, consistency, performance, and reliability are huge factors in our success. It is from my experience that we hope to share our ideas to help you reach and achieve your goals this season. Let us know if these tips help you out. Thanks!