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Importance of In Season Maintenance

 

I’d like to talk to you about the importance of in season maintenance work when it comes to softball strength conditioning.  A lot of softball players and teams spend an awful amount of work during the off-season building themselves up.  Anything ranging from skills work, pitching, fielding, hitting to fitness work also speed, agility, strength, and power work.  Then season starts, they’re in great shape, their skills are excellent but as soon as the season starts, they stop doing anything.  Therefore, it comes down to playing many games and doing some practices when you have the time.

Softball is a technical sport, meaning you need to spend a lot of time on the technical side of things.  Such as practicing hitting, fielding and in addition to doing any kind of a tactical and strength work, offensive, and defensive strategies.  Therefore, there is very little time if any time left at all to do any kind of fitness work anymore.

Many people believe that because you play the game and spend a lot of time practicing, when you have the time to practice that does maintain what you have built in the off-season.  That’s a big mistake.  You see, fitness is pretty much a use it or lose it element.  In other words, if you don’t keep doing fitness work you start losing it.

Of course, there’s a certain element of maintenance when you do a lot of practices and games.  However, nothing that you think it would be in terms of the amount you retain.  You might be good at jumps because you do many jumps on the bases.  In addition, some of the sprinting is being maintained obviously, some of the throwing power, hitting power, because you do many throws and hitting but it’s not that much.  You end up losing a lot of your fitness level over the course of the long season.

We start with most of you at high school ball, then end of May and June rolls around.  It’s like tournaments during weekends and many games.  By the time you reach key tournaments whether important show cases or nationals or any sort of important tournaments in July or maybe early August, you’ve already lost a lot of your gains that you made during the off-season thus the importance of maintaining your gains.

In order to build yourself up, your fitness level, increase your strength, flexibility, overall fitness, and power, it requires a fair amount of work.  Therefore, you need to lift weights, do fitness work 2-3 times a week in order to make a gain.  You need to work extra hard in order to build yourself up.  However, in order to maintain your gains, you don’t need that much work so in other words, you’re not required to do a lot of work to maintain what you have.  All you have to do is maintain a bit of intensity and do it once or twice a week or minimally once every 7 to 10 days.

Keep doing what you’re doing in the off-season and then once the season rolls around the goal of fitness work is not anymore to build yourself up but to maintain your gains.  If you don’t do any of it, which is the reality of many softball players and teams, you start losing it and by the end of the season many players have lost many of their gains or are injured.  I go to many tournaments throughout the season and being at tournaments it’s very, very common to see teams with many of the players dragging nagging injuries and not being able to play.  All because of the loss of fitness of the players and they end up injured.

One of the reasons is, we’re a repetitive sport.  Much of what we do is very repetitive and it takes its toll on the body.  Therefore, if you keep a good fitness level, you’re shielding yourself against many of those injuries and the severity of injury.  So if you’re fit and you don’t lose that fitness level if you get injured, it won’t be as severe and you’ll probably going to heal a lot faster.

Part of fitness and strength conditioning work is to not only improve your performance but also to keep you in the game.  Because if you keep yourself at 100% that will help in softball performance enhancement.  You want to stay at 100% because as soon as you’re at 60 or 50% of your game then your performance will be affected.

Therefore, here is the key, once the season rolls around try to find 10, 15 or 20 minutes, once a week at least in order to squeeze in a bit of a little workout.  Whether it’s at home by yourself, or on the field with your team.  You can do many things.

As a coach, if you’re looking for a great team training program look at softballteamtraining.com and that’s going to give you great softball specific workout program where you can use on the field.

The other thing you can do, this is something I started using a couple of years ago with a lot of success, when you have practices, instead of doing just a regular warm-up change your warm-up into a bit of a workout.  Instead of taking 10 minutes make it 20 minutes but do a circuit.

Let’s say you have 12 athletes, you can have 12 stations.  Then each station is about 30-45 seconds then rotate and 15 seconds to switch.  You could have a medicine ball, push up, lunges, and one of the thing we use, is called TRX.  It’s one of those suspension trainers you pull yourself with.  You can do the circuit twice and that takes 20 minutes or so.

However, this isn’t the kind of stuff that will make a difference in the long run.  Therefore, the whole idea again is to build yourself up in the off-season, tweak things in pre-season and once the season rolls around the goal is to maintain it.  In order to do it, you need to do less work, less often but at the same intensity.  Do a workout once or twice a week whenever you can or once every 10 days and you will minimize losses of your gains.  Try to stick with what you have or gained over the off-season all the way through the end of the season, that’s the goal.  Then at the end of the season take a couple of weeks off before you start rebuilding again.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of trying to stick some fitness work to maintain off-season gains during the season itself.  There are athletes that don’t do anything and they lose everything.  You don’t need a lot of work to maintain but you need to do some work.  So apply the use it or lose it principle in order to stay fit for the rest of the season and hopefully injury free.

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