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.
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:
- Legs – thighs
- Groin and pelvic muscles.
- Torso –stomach and oblique muscles
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.