By Frank Alexander MS, ATC
Baseball Health Network
With the winter season approaching, many baseball players take this time to ready themselves for the upcoming season. While strength and conditioning training and a throwing program are essential to improve skills, a period of rest is imperative. This down time gives the athlete’s body the recovery time it desires and can even help with achy and sore muscles. A period of rest can vary depending upon the athlete’s level of competition or how prone to injury they may be. For example, an athlete coming off of a shoulder injury or surgery may want a longer period of rest in the off-season. However, an athlete that made it through the previous season healthy may want to shorten their rest. Again, these time frames are dependent on skill levels and individual health.
As the holidays rapidly approach, this is an optimal time for athletes to take their break from training and throwing. High school athletes may want to take month or so off since their season typically does not start until late February or early March. Conversely, collegiate athletes may want to take a few weeks off since their season starts not long after the New Year arrives. Once you resume your throwing program, start with a simple flat-ground throwing program. Be sure not to confuse flat-ground throwing with flat-ground pitching! Having access to a well-versed pitching coach can greatly help achieve optimal throwing after a period of rest.
When it comes to strength and conditioning, make sure your core, legs, and shoulder are strong enough to take you through the spring season and into the summer and fall. Many athletes are specializing in a single sport at an alarmingly young age and maintenance programs are often neglected, leading to younger athletes needing career-altering surgeries such as Tommy John. Upon resuming a conditioning program, be sure to include the Thrower’s 10 exercises on a regular basis!
Off-season training is great for athletes of all ages and skill levels. Having access to well-versed coaches, such as pitching and strength-and-conditioning coaches, can help an athlete achieve longevity in their career. Additionally, periods of rest built into a training regimen can do the body some good and allow aches and soreness time to resolve. While some of your teammates may be training every day without a break, remember that a few weeks off now can save your career down the road!
Frank Alexander, a member of Team Ahmad, is a Physician Extender to Dr. Christopher Ahmad at Columbia University Medical Center.