Offseason Agenda: Lessons from Nature

The more I’m around the game of baseball, and the more time I spend on this Earth, I realize the two journeys parallel each other in countless ways. Baseball remains symbolic and enlightening of the life I intend to lead off the diamond.

This relationship between baseball and life is directly synonymous during the offseason. Similar to the different seasons of the year, baseball training also changes depending on the current time period we’re experiencing.

In Pennsylvania, we’re blessed with the full potential of the four seasons: fall, winter, spring and summer. While some people may complain about the dirty leaves being tracked in the house during the fall or the brutally cold and wet terrain when winter strikes, I personally appreciate the beauty and rebirth that the differing seasons bring us.

Using this analogy, we can concretely compare the four seasons with the type of training we should be striving for during the baseball offseason.

Fall

Currently, we are experiencing fall or autumn which is the time to shed unwanted baggage much like the trees are shedding their leaves. It’s a time to rest which allows nature and the body to recover and heal in the way that it knows how.

During the fall, baseball players should be resting from all skill work including throwing, hitting and fielding. The body needs time to recover and heal all injuries, minor and major, and eliminate any bad habits that were created over the course of the season.

Fall, for baseball players and nature alike, is the time to let go of all unnecessary work and prepare for the harsh winter to come. 

While strength and mobility training can continue in the fall, ensure that the body has time to amply recover from playing during the spring and summer. Atumn is the best time for baseball players to recover especially if they experienced several intense months of playing games and practicing.

During this time of year, be like nature and take time to recover and prepare for the next season.

Winter

Winter in Pennsylvania means no playing baseball outside (unless we get an unseasonably warm day). Remember this when comparing the seasons to your training regimen.

The beginning of winter is a great time to prepare for next baseball season. Think of the animals that hibernate during the winter. They do this to get their bodies ready for the spring when they will have to search for food and find a mate.

Baseball players should be doing the same thing (aside from finding a mate, girlfriend = no bueno). Use the winter to strengthen your entire body while also maintaining mobility and flexibility.

Baseball players should be striving to move more efficiently in their training which will directly correlate to their movement on the field. Proper movement is the key to remaining healthy and ensuring quality mechanics.

That’s why I suggest starting a mobility and strength training program in the winter. Use the cold winter months to stay inside and get your body where it needs to be for the spring. I suggest having a strength/movement training plan and a mobility routine.

Your strenghth training could include a balance of weight-lifting (depending on your age) and isometrics. Athletes 14 and under should not be lifting weights. Youth atheltes should only perform body-weiught and isometric exercises. 

Body-weight exercises could include push-ups, lunges, pull-ups, dips, one-legged RDLs and any other exercises you can do with just your body. 

Isometrics are any type of hold that you perform with your bodyweight. These could include planks, push-up holds, one-legged squats and any other exercise that can performed as a hold. Five minutes is a great indicator for the timing of holds, but you can start with less time when you are just beginning.

If you are old enough to lift weights safely, the winter season is the ideal time to gain strength. However, it is imperative that you are also stretching and performing a mobility routine to improve your overall flexibility and movement. Muscles that are large and cannot move well are recipe for disaster. 

Along with strength training, baseball players should also be focused on their diet during the winter and the other three seasons as well. Nutrition is even more important during the winter, because it’s the time to get stronger for next season. An athletes’ diet in-season is also critical for recovery.

Exerxise without proper nutrition is like using premium gas but never getting an oil change. The premium gas will help the health of your engine and training will help the health of your muscxles, but neglecting an oil change or proper nutrition will catch up to the machine in the long run.

Once you give your body a break from baseball skill work, it can be introduced again in the winter. Slowly incorporate baseball training as the winter progresses but focus more on improving your strength and mobility.

I suggest waiting about 6-8 weeks before your season starts to begin throwing and resume skill work. This gives your muscles the proper rest they will need after a grueling baseball season. 

Closing Thoughts

Eveyrone’s training plan will differ depending on when their season starts/ends and their goals for the offseason. Some athletes will focus more on strength while others will focus on movement. Some players take off months from skill work while others will only rest for a few weeks. There is no one-size-fits-all routine.

However, here are some key rules that every baseball player should follow in the offseason:

  • Rest from all skill work, especially throwing, for at least 1-2 months every year. I personally like to take off about 4-5 months, because my schedule allows it.
  • Use the offseason to prepare your body by getting it stronger and more mobile.
  • Focus more on body-weight and flexibility than training with weights.
  • Strive to move better.
  • Train your brain while you’re not playing by reading, performing breathing exercises, visualizion, watching videos of elite athletes and creating a productive routine.
  • Pay more attention to nutrition while training in the offseason.
  • Enjoy the slower pace of the colder months and use this time to work on yourself.

Apprecaite the offseason and use the time productively. You could play another sport, start a new hobby or spend more time with family and friends. Do something that brings you joy outside of the baseball realm.

Pay attention to nature and the lessons it can teach. This comparison of offseason routines to the seasons happened for a reason. 

Remember, everything you do during the offseason is preparing you for next spring when the weather breaks and you’re back out on the diamond. Strive to get a little better each day!

Image courtesy: https://traveler.marriott.com/tips-and-trends/the-only-map-you-need-to-see-the-leaves-change-color-this-fall/