The five main factors that will contribute to a successful off-season are;
Consistency – In the context of training and development; consistency is by far one of the most important aspects of a successful off-season/career. Developing positive habits from a young age plays a huge role in an athlete’s ability to progress to/past the level they desire. One thing I really want to emphases to the athletes in the programing this coming off season; is that every day in the gym isn’t going to go well and there will be many days when training is the last thing, they want to do but showing up and staying consistent is most of the battle.
Hard work – Once we have developed the habit of showing up every day; it’s time to work. Hard work shouldn’t be used as a metric to measure success simply because success isn’t linear. My job is to help the athletes understand that we are always working towards a larger goal but the effort and hard work we are putting in will lead to many small victories rather than one large victory. In my experience putting all the emphasis on the end goal becomes discouraging for young athletes because they feel like they have a giant mountain to climb which can create a hopeless mentality.
Patience – One of the toughest aspects of training and development. We all want to instantly find success but most of the time we need to trust the process and stay patient. Small victory after small victory will lead us up the mountain and we will come out of the off-season with hundreds of training hours under our belt. Be consistent, work hard, stay patient.
Perseverance- Training and competing in anything will lead to mental struggle. Anytime we are trying to improve our skills and have the desire to be better than we currently are, we are going to face challenges and struggles. Off-season’s can be long, and the natural ups and downs have the potential to wear an athlete down. One of my goals is to help the athletes navigate through the peaks and valleys to emerge as a better mental competitor.
Adaptability – Our environment on the field is constantly changing, pitch to pitch, play to play. To have success we need to flow with the game and constantly change our approach and strategy to the given situation. This is particularly important with training and pitching because how are body feels will greatly vary day to day, which will lead to nuanced changes in our ability to execute the given task. It’s necessary to put athletes in uncomfortable situations to broaden their ability to have multiple approaches to different tasks.
The off-season can be broken down into specific categories. The layout of the off-season progresses from general to specific. It’s important to remember that “pitching” off the mound is only a small part of the overall off-season development. Listed below are the stages of an off-season program.
Post season assessment – This is where we identify specific deficiencies in the physical delivery and go over weaknesses that appeared throughout the season. The assessment will lay the foundation for the specific drills and programing structure for the duration of the off-season. It also provides a great baseline to track progress over time.
Non-throwing Rest Period – Following the assessment, time off from throwing may be required. Factors that contribute to needing time off from throwing are, age, workload throughout the season, time till spring season starts and physical health of the athlete. Drills during this phase will have emphasis on mobility and body positioning but be exempt from making physical throws.
On Ramping – During this phase throwing will begin. The goal of the on ramp is to gradually build the throwing volume of the athlete to avoid injury. This phase is generally 4-8 weeks of increasing workload. Starting with basic catch play a few times a week and leading into long toss and higher intensity throws. The period of on ramping creates a great base of arm strength that will carry the athlete through the season.
Mound blending and Velocity (age dependent) – Once the arm and body have been properly built up and prepared for high intensity throws our focus will shift to throwing things hard and moving fast. Based on age and skill level this phase is generally 4-6 weeks which will consist of 1-2 high intensity days per week. During this phase we will also begin throwing off the mound.
Pitch Design and Simulated Hitters- At this point we are beginning to gear up for the season and our goals shift to developing and executing different pitches at game speed. This phase general takes us into the start of the season.
Live hitters – At this point the season is only a couple weeks away and we begin facing live hitters to get us ready for the season and bring us up to game speed
Looking forward to seeing you and your players there!