Once the baseball season begins, a ballplayer’s schedule can change dramatically. In the off-season, you may have dedicated yourself to preparing for the season by taking tons of swings in the cage, met with a private pitching coach to work on your delivery, got in the gym to train 3-4 times per week, and/or you were eating like a madman to gain or maintain your weight. Whatever your plan, you had it laid out and you were dedicated.
Then, the first pitch of the season was thrown and you were excited to show off your hard work. Your mind was also given a bit of a break knowing you could now just focus on playing each game and practicing with your team. Your head coach has everything planned out for you on a week-to-week basis, so you are just going to put in time with your team and wait for the next game.
But, why would you dedicate yourself so passionately in the off-season and then not game plan an in-season approach? It’s time to learn a few things that can help you stay at your best all season, while others are struggling just to get by day to day.
Here are three things every ballplayer should be doing in-season:
Continue Your Strength and Conditioning
Your strength program should not be designed to take place only in the off-season or pre-season. You should strive to continually get in the gym 1-2 times per week throughout the course of your regular season. The goal of your in-season program should be to maintain your current levels of strength, maximize recovery between practices and games, and stay injury free. Those players that stay committed to their program will see huge benefits near the end of the season when most athletes are succumbing to fatigue and soreness. For a more in-depth look at an in-season program, check out In-season Training for the High School Athlete.
Eat with a Purpose
Just because the season has started and you have cut back on your strength work does not mean you should mail in your good eating habits as well. If anything, you need to focus even more on what you put in your body during the season. The food you eat can have a direct impact on how you feel and how you recover, which in turn can affect how you play. Playing at home is a blessing because it is often easier to find and prepare good meals. But, what about when you are on the road? Just because the team bus rolls up to some fast food joints, does not mean you have walk through those doors. Plan ahead – pack quality foods that you know will help give you energy and promote your recovery such as protein shakes, trail mix, jerky, and fruit.
This seems obvious, but many ballplayers do not get an adequate amount of sleep during the season. This is especially true if you play at the college or pro level where long, cramped bus rides often serve as your bed. You have to make due in these situations, but when you have a good bed at your disposal, you need to get to bed early and rack up those hours on the pillow. Again, plan ahead – finish your homework early and turn off the TV so you can get to bed on time. There’s no point in staying up late for the sake of staying up late. There’s nothing that important going on anyway.
Maximize On-Field Performance
Remember, your primary goal during the season is your on-field performance – to compete and play well when you step between the lines. So, you need to set yourself and your body up to be as prepared as possible when you cross the foul line. That means staying injury free, staying strong, maintaining your bodyweight, and being well-rested. Don’t view these tasks as independent of one another, but rather parts of the whole process that keep you running at the highest level.