Spring High School Baseball and Softball Seasons are about to start—a very exciting time for many players, coaches and parents. The only thing that can really dampen this time of year is getting injured–usually a elbow, wrist, shoulder, ankle or knee. What I have seen over the years is the lack of over all body strength in high school athletes. I am a big fan of kids playing multiple sports. Yet what I do see is kids playing a lot of games. Our schools offer physical education but what they really do is play games — kick ball, wiffle ball, basketball and capture the flag! It’s games, games and more games–no strength building–no preparing them for the long seasons they play in their sports.
Here’s the scenario– a kid plays a continuous schedule of games and sooner then later gets fatigued –tired–then plays hard for his/her team in a game and blows a knee, an elbow or ankle. Now these injuries add up–the body is a kinetic chain. If an ankle breaks down there is a lot research out there stating he/she is high risk for knee injury! This is the reason we at StL Athletic Development have an Off-Season and an In-Season Strength & Conditioning Program. During Off-Season we are building total body strength to play at a high level and to PROTECT! During the In-Season it’s to maintain what your athlete has gained–including the PROTECTION!!
I am a big believer in “less is more” and “quality over quantity” for in-season training – 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. An athlete may be in the facility longer in order to do foam rolling and targeted mobility drills.
Volume and intensity should be lower in week 1, but higher for the remaining weeks with in-season strength training programs – we usually keep the volume and intensity lower in the first week of the program to minimize initial soreness. Then, once the familiarity with the exercises is in place, we can load up a bit more in weeks a head.
We do utilize a small amount of medicine ball work during the season. Usually, it’s predominantly done in the opposite direction of a player’s swing/throw; in other words, a right-handed hitter would perform left handed medicine ball throws. We might also do a small amount of overhead work just to maintain power within this range of motion (as well as the thoracic spine and shoulder flexion mobility that goes with it)..
We tend to stick with 2x/week “conventional” rotator cuff exercises (mostly external rotations) and 2x/week rhythmic stabilization drills. In conjunction with the rest of our overall program – which includes compound upper body strength exercises ( horizontal and vertical pulling exercises, in particular), deceleration catches, core stability drills, lower half strength exercises, soft tissue work, mobility work, etc – we cover all our needs for keeping an arm & body healthy.
I have included a good amount of detail in regards to In-Season training in this message because I am passionate about the need to maximize your investment in Off -season training and supporting your athlete in achieving their sport performance goals.
I encourage you to join StL Athletic Development In-Season Strength & Conditioning Program to Maintain and Protect. If you have any questions about the program please do hesitate to contact me. Thanks! leo