The vast majority of baseball players we see completely stop training once their seasons begin. Be it from a lack of time, a fear of affecting game performance, or insufficient know-how, proper inseason training is a rarity.
For big universities, this is less of a problem. Many of these programs are under the watchful and competent eyes of experienced strength coaches who have seen the benefits of maintaining a consistent training schedule. Things start to go haywire once we look at smaller universities and colleges, but they completely fall apart at the high school level.
I don’t know why inseason training evaporates into nothingness at high schools (the list of possible reasons is quite long), but here are my arguments for turning that trend around:
Kids are less physically active than ever before
Social media, video games, food delivery, and other first-world delights are completely sapping kids of critical movement development opportunities. If you could compare incoming freshmen now to those even 20 years ago, my guess is our young athletes are less durable, less coordinated, less capable, and generally less athletically developed. If you think years of sedentary habits doesn’t have an effect on athleticism, think again.
Combine the awkwardness of adolescent growth spurts with a historically low level of free play and physical activity, and you’ve got the recipe for physically incompetent athletes.
Inseason training is amazing for long term athletic development
At the high school level, athletes can easily train three days per week and still maintain high game performances during season. Young athletes simply don’t have the output capabilities to overtrain, so long as they are following an appropriately constructed plan.
A typical high school season in Houston (where I live) lasts from the end of February through May, then extends into the summer with travel baseball, and in total lasts about 20 weeks. So how many training opportunities could you miss by not training during your seasons? Here’s the breakdown:
If you choose to forego inseason training, you are also choosing to miss over 300 chances for athletic development. If the goal is high movement competency, health, robustness, total athleticism, and improved performance, then this is not the right choice.
Younger athletes are highly responsive to training, and highly susceptible to detraining
Athletes with low training ages (not much experience training on a consistent basis with appropriate methods) tend to respond extremely fast to many different performance programs. It’s almost impossible not to make progress at that age and level of experience.
This is excellent news in the offseason, when most ballplayers get put on a rigorous program. They gain lean mass, get stronger, faster, and more powerful, and it all happens very quickly. Unfortunately, all those gains go down the drain when they stop training.
The loss of offseason gains is usually accompanied by a reduction in performance as the season progresses. As the most important part of the season approaches (playoffs), athletes are physically fading away. Not exactly the ideal scenario if you want to win games, and certainly not ideal if you want to promote long term athletic development.
I hope I have convinced you to continue training through the season. Here are my bullet point arguments:
- Kids are way less physically active now than they were in the past, so inseason training serves as makeup work for all the movement education they have in our modern lifestyles.
- Over the course of a high school career, the amount of training opportunities during season is staggering, and not taking advantage will seriously stunt long term athletic development.
- Low training age athletes make incredibly fast gains during offseason workouts, only to lose them just as fast, and experience reduced game performance, if they stop training.
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