As summer traipses into fall and the cheers of the diamond turn to jeers of the gridiron, the most important time of a ball player’s year has arrived: the offseason.
For many kids today, the start of an offseason in one sport means that the season is just beginning in another. For others, the offseason is a time to focus on skill development and physical development.
Either way, Michelle Alencar, Ph.D., an assistant professor of kinesiology at Cal State Long Beach, said young athletes must remember to take some downtime between seasons.
“All athletes truly need down time,” she said, “even just a few weeks to let their body rest.”
Evan Coachman, an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Kansas State University, agrees.
“Rest time and the offseason are paramount to withstanding the physical wear and tear of constant competitive sport engagement,” he said.
That said, rest time can still be productive, Alencar and Coachman agree. An athlete at rest doesn’t need to be completely inactive. In fact, Coachman emphasizes the opposite.
He outlined some fundamental aspects of how to “let an athlete’s body rest and recover while still being active.” He noted that “the body removes waste, toxins, and recovers by moving.”
Using an amateur pitcher as an example, Coachman explains that after an outing in which the pitcher provided 100 percent effort, such as in a game or throwing a bullpen, he wants the pitcher to turn around the next day and throw again, albeit at a decreased workload such as light throwing from 10, 15, 20 feet.
When beginning an offseason workout, Coachman uses a three-step interdependent process to guide his work.
First, ensure that the neuromuscular pattern of the athlete is sound. This means ensuring the basics and fundamentals of weight training movements are correct.
Second, the athlete can begin developing strength through heavier weight training.
And after the first two steps are thoroughly accomplished, the athlete can now begin adding power to their strength.
While there are many philosophies, theories and approaches to offseason training, a common theme is the utmost importance for rest and recovery.
Alencar adds one more important factor, especially the younger the athlete: “Keep it fun and remember why the athlete is playing in the first place.”