Off Season Considerations

During the off season I’m a big believer in a reasonable training table, leg and torso regiments – but, not the demanding routines followed by body builders and the like. I am however, of the school that understands that the primary benefits from - off season, as part of the cycle in the baseball experience, and that is the easing of the competitive tempo.

In regards to the last statement above, pitching can be demanding both mental and physical and can drain even the most competitive sprit. I also know that those that try to maintain the razor edge year round do themselves no justice. Hence, we all need a break and refitting from time to time, and pitching is no exception.

An important consideration with the off season mindset has to do with a cycle that strives for reaching the threshold of excellence. This threshold winds up at the end of a cycle that has a starting point with (1) awareness, the (2) initial performance, then (3) refinement, and ends with (4) peak realization. The fourth (4) peak realization is the maximum performance level that one can achieve and is very personal to every individual. In other words a limit that the body can not pass.

Pushing that limit beyond one’s ability to improve, deteriorates the feedback sensors that aid in estimating performance. So, understanding … or sensing this limit is critical. And one of the best ways to do this is to incorporate a rest period to relax and start anew. Hence, an off season can greatly enhance the cycle of training and perfection - (1) through (4).

TRAINING TABLE (diet)

Breakfast is a primary building block because it supports all the other diet and daily routines that follow.

However, certain factors can upset even the best training tables. Working a night job, illness, allergies, stress, depression and even environmental conditions can play havoc with the best of intentions. A common environmental condition is either prolonged heat and humidity and cold.

For a breakfast training table try and include enough TIME to have breakfast. Fine tuning breakfast to fit seasonal conditions is very important. For example, living in an area where the temperature is 90 plus during the off season, planning a breakfast of hot cream of wheat may not be best start of your day.

A good starting point is considering the nutritional benefits of your meals. Read and understand food labels and your daily intake needs based on you age, height and your normal healthy level of activity. You should know your “Body Fat Index” which is your body fat percentage. Your breakfast should support attaining and/or sustaining your optimum index/percentage, you’re off season activity and so forth. Also, a starting point for regimenting you time can start with a scheduled breakfast at a specified time, planned in advance, and even prepared if possible the night before.

Try and include a combination of fruit, grain and dairy with your breakfast -. especially fruit. Fruit has natural sugars and will maintain a digestive cycle and promote an active appetite An active appetite promotes consistency with nutritional intake, regular body functions, growth and healing. A reasonable balanced diet also supports a sound sleep management program, which by the way is often overlooked.

EXERCISE AND PHYSICAL WORKOUTS
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The first cardinal rule is NEVER exercise or participate in any physical workout when you’re tired. The second cardinal rule is always replenish your body with clean water DURING your exercises and workouts. And the third cardinal rule is be reasonable with your routines in number and kind – don’t over reach. Remember, you’re only trying to keep your muscle tone, your tempo of “prep” for spring training, and most of all you’re keeping healthy by keeping active with those body functions that support you during the “breaking in” period of the spring and then on to the playing season.

Parts of the body to concentrate on
The following parts of the body for a high school player, regardless of age or level, are:

  1. Ankles
  2. Legs – thighs
  3. Groin and pelvic muscles.
  4. Torso –stomach and oblique muscles
  5. Shoulders

Now since everyone is different in build, strength and attitude, I’m not
going to get specific with any one set of muscle groups by saying “do this,
do that”. What I am going to suggest is that YOU, not your father or someone else, start a routine that has a specified time and place, a set number of “reps” that you can do without dreading the appointment or having dear ole dad tell you …”come on son, time to crank-em out”. And another thing, depending on YOUR objectives on how far you want to take yourself (be realistic) this part of your off season cycle can be a very lonely existence.

I am a very ardent supporter of ROAD WORK. Boxers depend on road work as a staple in their training. Road work builds stamina, tolerances, mental concentration INWARD that no other training can provide. I’ve had talented players lightly jog three miles after a conference session involving posture and form reviews, 16 mm reviews of their performance during the last season, rehab issues, and so on. We also talk while their road working – they jog … I ride in the convertible eating grapes. ( what’s the matter with that… grapes are good for ya!)

The muscle groups that I mentioned above are in constant demand of being flexible and supple. I have no intention of developing the front line for the UCLA football team … as much as I admire that institution. Therefore, loads that involve maxing bench presses, dead lifts and what-not are not high on my list. I prefer stair lift stretch-n hold routines for the groin and pelvic muscles, gym floor routines for the ankles, thighs and legs, limited abdominal crunches utilizing the obliques followed immediately with slow torso-trunk twists.

I divide shoulder routines into three groups
First group: Rookies and Sign-on’s from other programs/systems.
These players are an unknown to me and I usually witness a pattern of performance that usually includes conformity to routines, dexterity, muscular fluidness and a host of other disciplines. Simple windmills, shoulder rotations, extended “crab” pushups, and a host of “machine” assisted workouts are included. A blood pressure reading is performed prior to and at the completion of all workouts.

Second group: Rehabilitation players.
Strictly dictated physical routines per orders of professional medical and other personnel supervised and complimented.

Third group: Seasoned veterans within the organization/system
Unless otherwise specified, workout routines are a repetitive structured set of movements that are customized by the player alone, or in concert with others like myself and other staff.

For the high school player who plans on returning to active duty come spring, this can be the make-or-break time in his career. I say this because so much depends on the preparation, the choice of exercises and their duration. Trying to remember that flexible and supple shoulder
muscles are the key to healthy performance, is often overshadowed by power lifting and reaching for muscle size. I’d suggest a hot shower prior to workouts, isometrics involving the shoulder group, many of the TUFF CUFF workout routines, a cool down period of a half and hour by relaxing in a hot tub –Jacuzzi, or under a hot shower, a rub down with Absorbine Jr or other preferred product. Also, talcum powder with a heavy sprinkling of the feet and pelvic area.

In cold weather regions, proper clothing and a towel rap round the head and around the base of the neck are mandatory when leaving a gym.

HEALTH RELATED ISSUES

Keep a chart of your weight, blood pressure, your overall mood and how healthy you feel – on a scale from 1 – 10 prior to and at the finish of every workout. Take special note of any real changes. If you’re noticing say a prolonged negative of your attitude, perhaps your workouts may
be giving you less than what’s expected.

Drink plenty of clean fresh water during your sessions – including your roadwork.

keep track of your nutritional intake - what, how much, energy output monitoring. 100 % Fruit juices - not suppliments, are natural body enhancements. Howevr, fruit with a high acid content can lead to cramps and sometimes dry mouth.

Coach B.

What would you say the optimal number of sets and reps for those sets would be?
I understand some exercises may have different numbers, but what would a general idea be?

Also, can you think of anything to strengthen hip adductors and abductors without those convenient machines? We don’t have any here at school :frowning:
We also don’t have those ankle resistance bands either :frowning:

I’ve got to admit I was a little surprised when I read your question - about the adductors.

That’s going pretty deep, in the conditioning sense, and your question must be related to a strength and conditioning program that you or someone else has (is) setting your personal schedule to.

So, just in case we have those readers who have no idea of what we’re talking about, let me briefly give a little background.

The adductors are a group of hip/upper leg muscles that are deep within the upper leg, but, they comprise a lot of the legs ability and strength. They are attached to the pelvic area and span to the femur (upper leg). Other muscles cover them so their not that well known or displayed.

Now a question has to be popping into almost everyone’s minds that’s reading this is… “ oh my gosh… should this be something that I should be concerned with???”

No. So take it easy and let’s consider the question a little deeper and who’s asking and why.

First let me address the question about the adductor muscle group with an answer.

Workout machines that work this muscle group are good – I guess, but I’d much rather spend time on leg squats – 5 reps, then two laps around the gym, then leg squats – 5 reps, two flight of stairs … skipping every other step, leg squats – 5 reps, then two laps around the gym. Cool down for five minutes stretched out on the mats. Start all over again. This routine has a 30 minute run time. An alternate routine is to increase leg squats and replace the stair climb. Now the exercise routine that I just outlined IS for grown men, in top shape and excellent health.

With respect to the other areas of development and conditioning, your individual spec’s, health, and other issues necessitate you fact-finding your own space and what fits you. I hesitate to outline specifics for you because I’m dealing with a host of unknowns, and I don’t coach or suggest specifics in the dark when it comes to strength and conditioning.

With respect to exercise machines I’m not a big fan of watching players park their hindquarters on a machine – any machine. They tend to get comfortable and gab like there’s no tomorrow – then they start to think. Ballplayers get in all kinds of trouble when they think!

Now, your asking a question about a muscle group that not many people –including the guys that I’ve coached ( in their early and mid twenties) would be too concerned about. May I ask why your concern about this muscle group? You also mentioned a school – at what grade level are you at? And finally, has someone pointed you in this direction about this muscle group and if so who and why?

A long time ago, a player of ours was home and set up a gym in is rec room. He also got a hernia during the off season and when he went into his rec room and started working out on one of his machines he soon found out how painful a hernia can be.

Strength and conditioning is nothing to “try your hand at” if your inexerienced in the REASONS for conditioning.

I ask these questions because even college level strength and conditioning for pitchers would have a defined pattern for working this area – and for heavy duty reasons per individual.

Excellent question though – and it did catch me by surprise. I hope I’ve done justice to your question.

Coach B.

Wow thanks, Coach B. Great post and it helps me (sticky? :wink: )

[quote=“Coach Baker”]
Now, your asking a question about a muscle group that not many people –including the guys that I’ve coached ( in their early and mid twenties) would be too concerned about. May I ask why your concern about this muscle group? You also mentioned a school – at what grade level are you at? And finally, has someone pointed you in this direction about this muscle group and if so who and why?

I ask these questions because even college level strength and conditioning for pitchers would have a defined pattern for working this area – and for heavy duty reasons per individual.

Coach B.[/quote]

Well I am concerned about the adductors because of the abductors. It makes sense that after leg lift and drop, a pitcher is abducting the lift leg away from his body. By making that leg’s abductor stronger, it would make sense that he in fact could gain a little more strength/speed into foot plant, thereby generating more force into that given pitch. I am concerned about the adductors because they are the corresponding muscle group to the abductors. So working them both out would be more balanced than just one; like push ups and pull ups.
Here is a link to Johan Santana’s leg/core workout. There is an exercise for the abductors there, involving an ankle band.

http://magazine.stack.com/TheIssue/Article/4430/Johan_Santanas_Workout_Routine.aspx

That was my concern. :slight_smile:
As to my grade, I am a freshman at a University in Michigan.
As to who pointed me in the direction of abductors and adductors, well, I kinda came across those babies on my own.

Thanks Coach.

Sorry I know this is off-topic but Michigan? Great!

kjeezey

The more I considered your question, your take on the subject(s), the more I have to come to this conclusion - your dedication to strength and conditioning … I hope, is reflected back to you by the coaching staff at the University in Michigan. In particular, Coach Keller should be on the same page with you during this period. Coach Keller is one of the most highly respected Pitching Coaches in the college game. He is no stranger to the college bound players in my neck of the woods - New England.

My compliments kjeezey on fact-finding more than just chasing the velocity game.

So, I’d like to add this to my last post about conditioning, especially with the legs and how the arms can ease “loads” on the knees. Please take these instructions slowly:

Squat slowly and let your arms rest on your knees by stretching them out (arms), but make sure your arms are nice and relaxed.
Now while still squating, bring your arms around to your backside so they (arms) are pointing backwards.
Notice how … ever so slowly your balance is upset and you start to rock back on your heels. More than likely, you counter act the tilting back by leaning your head forward more and bending at the belly foward more.

Now here’s where this simple example of arms = weights comes into play. If you can reach a happy medium with your forward motion, and stretch your stride leg and plant so your body’s weight is driving the pitch, your arms should ADD enough wweighted-balance to allow your legs to compliment this “load” on your stride foot-ankle-knee and thighs. You’ll know the feeling is just right when your hips provide the platform base for bringing the torso and shoulder platforms around with that solid feeling of strenght and the arm’s release is almost effortless.

What I just described is virutally impossible to put into words and have you understand what I’m trying to explain. You must have the talents of a skilled trainer working in concert with your pitching coach. And on that note, some pitchers pick this fine tuning up right out of the starting blocks, while others less so. But in any event - the key to making this work is to feel little or not pressure on the stride knee. Hence, pressure and demands on the stride leg is distributed so evenly and complete that all your energy is forward - direct- and released to the ball. None of your energy stays behind with you.

I hope I’ve described this well enough. I’m a pitching coach and not very gifted in the narration department.

Coach B.

I have to disagree with your exercise section just based on the purpose behind off-season workouts. You said that it is just about keeping “tone” until spring rolls around. This has been addressed quite frequently in the past 40 or so years by the practice of periodization - which breaks the competitive year into phases of corresponding strength and conditioning work. The off season is the time when athletes should look to make their biggest physical strides, and program design should reflect this. Just maintaining your current level is not going to be beneficial going into Spring. A baseball season, by its very nature, is a degenerative process. Athletes enter the season at 100% (in terms of strength and conditioning) and that number will drop progressively through the season due to lack of time and energy for strength training. You want to go into the year at your peak and just trying to keep tone will not allow you to do that.

As for distance running, or road work, I also disagree. Boxing is not baseball. Baseball does not have the aerobic component that boxing does, and there is no need for long road work sessions. The stamina gained from long, slow distance running is not compatible with strength endurance which is used in baseball. Two different energy systems. In terms of building mental strength, there are much better ways to do so within a strength program which will aid a baseball player. Ask anyone who has done 20 rep squats or completed 100 burpees how they felt by the end. It’s far more intense than a long slow run.

There is just a lot of misinformation in your article that I feel is counter-productive to your aim (and many of our aims) which is to help athletes reach their fullest potential. Painting with such a broad brush (“powerlifting and reaching for muscle size”) just reinforces common viewpoints not based in reality. Powerlifting is not bodybuilding and muscle size is not a factor for powerlifting. Increasing strength is what powerlifting is about. Parts of this style can be extremely useful for baseball players. By writing this off, you lose all the valuable information contained therein. I guess I am part of the school of though that thinks you can gain insight from every area - not just “baseball people.” In fact, when compared with almost every other sport, baseball strength and conditioning has lagged behind. Only recently, with the influx of people like Eric Cressey and others have we seen baseball begin to wake up.

Sorry if this comes across as combative, but I had to address some things.

I’ve rarely experienced this condition … however, if any player or coach has experienced otherwise I’d like to hear more.

Also, the term “tone” is not implied as a static condition - like maintaining a point in time for a particular body mass, muscle composition, endurance and so forth. Nor did I imply simply marking time and then try and hit the ground running in the preseason. physical conditioning is different for each person, regardless of what the last 40 years has generated and dedication has to be realistic to the orbits of the real world for the youngstes in the non-professional game. Taking issue with a 12 year or 15 year old has to take more into consideration than you considered here. I my posting I had to tak that into consideration.

With respect to boxing and baseball, yes your right - they are different. However, I have not in no way suggested road work to be an end in itself. and the assumption that road work has to be long… that’s your imprint on the reading, not mine. Are there other exercises that can accomplish other things - of course. I have found benefits to road work - indoor track, country jog and the like that you have not. And …The stamina gained from long, slow distance running is not compatible with strength endurance which is used in baseball. Could you direct me to the source of that one please. I’d like to fact-find the specifics on that one.

There is just a lot of misinformation in your article that I feel is counter-productive to your aim (and many of our aims) which is to help athletes reach their fullest potential

The part of …and many of our aims … if your speaking on behalf of everyone that posts here, then list them by name.
If your expressing your own thoughts… then say so by yourself. A spokesman for the site in total your not.

Coach Baker

[quote=“Coach Baker”]

I’ve rarely experienced this condition … however, if any player or coach has experienced otherwise I’d like to hear more.[/quote]
That comes from Tudor Bompa, PhD, in his book Periodization Training for Sports. The athlete reaches a peak at the end of the prepatory phase (off season) and begins to decline as the competitive season goes on. Different program design can slow the fall, but you will see decline in strength. *(Bompa was a Soviet strength coach of 11 Olympic medal winners and is currently a professor at York University in Canada).

Compiled by CF here: http://www.letstalkpitching.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=5329

[quote]There is just a lot of misinformation in your article that I feel is counter-productive to your aim (and many of our aims) which is to help athletes reach their fullest potential

The part of …and many of our aims … if your speaking on behalf of everyone that posts here, then list them by name.
If your expressing your own thoughts… then say so by yourself. A spokesman for the site in total your not.[/quote]
I had assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that this website and forum community was designed to help others reach their full potential. If you or others do not share this goal, then I apologize.

[quote=“Coach Baker”]kjeezey

The more I considered your question, your take on the subject(s), the more I have to come to this conclusion - your dedication to strength and conditioning … I hope, is reflected back to you by the coaching staff at the University in Michigan. In particular, Coach Keller should be on the same page with you during this period. Coach Keller is one of the most highly respected Pitching Coaches in the college game. He is no stranger to the college bound players in my neck of the woods - New England.

Coach B.[/quote]

I should clarify this before I look like a liar, haha. I said a University OF. Sorry for the confusion. :oops:
I actually go to a small, private, NAIA University here in Michigan.
But yes I too have heard good things of Keller.

I think I am going to buy one of those resistance bands Johan was using.

KC… you’re taking things way out of context and interjecting a ton of academia. And no doubt about it, the quotes from experts like the ones you’ve pointed to have a great deal to say about the subjects they discuss.

I have no argument with any of these people and their positions. Nor have I single mindedly claimed to focus one training method or methods over another. That’s unreasonable and very short sighted.

The fact of the matter is you’ve picked and selected points of interest that you’ve over reacted too, and over reacted big time. No where did I suggest that jogging or roadwork, as I refer to it, is an end within itself. On the other hand, jogging is advantageous for many reasons – it’s inexpensive to do, you don’t need a lot of gym equipment to do it – even a treadmill in a kid’s basement can fit that bill, and the increase flow of oxygen in the blood stream, enhancements with the cardiovascular system are stand lone qualities on themselves. Is this the beginning and end of conditioning for a pitcher – of course not. Yet you seem
to focus on something that alludes to my gong in that direction… And drawing upon my reference to boxing as somehow supporting a parallel between the two sports is beyond me. Aside from the benefits a simple exercise that promotes all the healthy qualities for both sports – there’s really not much to add on my part. Even jump rope, which is a staple in a boxer’s routine can provide excellent benefits for pitchers as PART of their routines. Are either of these exercises an end by themselves - no,
but, you chose to think otherwise based on my comments.

My comments relative to football was another reference that you seem to take exception to and I found that puzzling also. Linemen routinely have physical drills and routines that are not homogenous with baseball – blocking sleds, tuck-roll-and-recover are just a few. A lineman’s physical development is like night and day to a pitcher’s. This “broad brush” as you called it is only supported by something you have as a mindset coming into the discussion, its no something that I posted here.

There is a wide gap in talent, experience and knowledge that visits this site, so keeping the subject matter – initially, somewhat reasonable for all ages to read has been my objective – regardless of anyone else’s approach. And I find this to be a realistic attitude. The academia that you’ve brought to this discussion is quality – no doubt, just lighten up on slapping people in the face with it.

The rest of this column is yours.

Coach Baker