As the spring is approaching, baseball players are entering the daunting stretch of time that makes up their long season. We had an opportunity to train Josh Fields, a pitcher with the Houston Astros major league club, at SPARC this winter, and as he departed earlier this week for spring training in Florida he said, “See y’all in 8-months…” It got me thinking about some numbers. He trained 4-months with us; he will be gone for 8. Anecdotally, if an athlete measures his/her gains after 4-weeks of training, they can expect to see them go away in only 2 if they discontinue. Scientifically, you will find research with more refined numbers, but they follow the same trend where it takes a lot more time to improve than it does to regress. I’m driving home this point…  It does not make sense for athletes to labor in the off-season if they are not going to be able to take advantage of the benefits of strength and conditioning when it really matters in-season. Yet, so many athletes, especially baseball players who undergo one of the longest seasons in sports, decide to shut down their training programs when the season begins.

When I mentioned losing gains, I was referring to a concept known as detraining. The detraining process actually begins only 48-hours after an athlete’s last training session. At that point, athletes are already missing out on being at their best. Stepping up to the plate or onto the mound is when ball players should be most concerned about being at their best, right?

Let’s quickly review why any athlete should be training. Some of the benefits of strength and conditioning are improving strength, power, flexibility, and conditioning. These relate to higher performance. Furthermore, athletes train to prevent injury. If a weakness or particularly susceptible place for injury is being accounted for in a training program, and the program is discontinued, an athlete can expect to see weaknesses begin to resurface and susceptibility to injury rise in just 48-hours.

Circling back to Josh’s comment, of course we were aware it was vital for him to continue training throughout the season, and so was Josh. He made big gains throughout the off-season without competition and practice taking precedence, but but he understands training is always crucial to success. Therefore, we  had a plan ready for him.

With baseball season approaching full swing, it is our responsibility as strength and conditioning specialists to make all of our baseball athletes’ training supplementary and complimentary to their top priorities of competition and practice to prevent over-training, while still realizing the benefits of strength and conditioning on the field. Training is a team effort. We are prepared, and it also requires the athletes to recognize that in-season training is a high priority—one that cannot be neglected for the sake of performance and health. That means there’s no excuses for being tired or not having enough time. When athletes realize something is fundamental to success, they make the effort and the time to do it.

Please visit the link below to Eric Cressey’s webpage. It gives plenty of helpful information for all baseball players concerning in-season training, and it is broken down by age. Cressey offers great advice for how to fit training into an in-season schedule. He gives a wealth of information through this series of blog entries. Call us at SPARC for information on in-season strength and conditioning with our Specialists.

By: Fred Munzenmaier