All coaches and baseball players alike are focused on the season, and winning is often at the top of their minds. However, this persistent focus could easily lead to overtraining without the notice of either the coaching staff or the players. So how do you establish whether the team is training excessively? Think “period”.
The time of the year is paramount in determining when and where baseball athletes should be going all in with their practice or when to tone things down a bit.
During the pre-season period is when you want to ensure the intensity of the training is high and concentrate on the movements that will be specific to the sport. Gradually as the season nears, you should reduce the volume of work that you’ll be doing but at the same time ramping up on the specificity of the exercise selection. Finally, when it’s a week before the season, give room for a de-load or “taper and peak” effect, which will optimize the players’ conditions as the season kicks off.
During the season, ensure you focus mostly on auto-regulation. This means gauging the team and regulating the intensity of their practice. In most cases, baseball players need to reduce the volume of the training in this period to give room for maximum recovery and that they have optimal performance. Additionally, you should incorporate other recovery measures such as Epsom salt baths, contrast showers, massages and of course sleep.
When the curtains come down on the season, hand the team an off-season gift of a one or two weeks off that is exempt of all high-impact training. This means no hitting the gym, lifting weights or doing heavy cardio. As a coach, ensure that this time is mandatory to all the athletes, as it will help rejuvenate their minds and bodies.
After the break is over and training resumes, avoid heavy work that will directly load the spine until the players are a few weeks in.
Besides the season timing, other factors to consider include nutrition, stress management, sleep, training experience, mindset, the current recovery capacity and current work capacity as these factors can assist the players in working hard or hinder them. Schedule out a smart routine throughout the year in order to maximize performance during the on-season.