What Do We Do Now When Things Just Don’t Go Right?
The season has started for us. We have done a lot of work since the end of last season to prepare us for games in February and March, however something does not feel right in the way our shoulder or elbow is feeling right now. The weather has been cold in So Cal (we are spoiled here), there has been intermittent rain over the past few weeks and we just do not seem to be able to get in the same amount of work that we were doing prior to the season. Now we are getting ourselves loose before a game and there is still a feeling of soreness. What do we do now?
This is a very common occurrence in our game today. Due to the stress levels that we put on ourselves while competing in either long weekend tournaments, multiple practices and/or games over a short period of time, there is the general lack of not wanting to ‘spend our bullets’ in training so that we are rested and ready to go for the game.
This theme of trying to take it easy when the season arrives is something that many pitchers tend to think is customary for the spring. We see this in MLB games because of the every day occurrence that players have to go through. We do not complete the same type of workouts that made us during the off-season.
It is usually during the off-season when our bodies and arms feel best because we are pushing ourselves to limits that are not necessarily required of us during the spring time games. We get ourselves to a point where we just generally feel like we have nothing to lose and so we workout 2-3 hours a day. In a sense, we really have nothing to lose during these training sessions. Then, spring comes around and we tend to slow down and not put the amount of stress on our bodies that we did when it is considered a so called off-season.
Why? Roger Clemens used to say that the easiest day of his work week was the day that he threw. He notoriously worked out like a mad man between starts and lathered himself up into a sweaty mess before he took the mound during games. Now, say what you want about Clemens and how he may have “helped himself” in the game of baseball, but his work ethic never changed. It did not matter if it was the season or the off-season because he knew that for his body to perform the way that it did he needed to train consistently throughout the year.
What happens to most players is when the ‘real’ season approaches we tend to take our intensity level down. But what really happens is the intensity of the games go up and therein lies the problem with why we break down and asks ourselves what do we do now?
Over the years we have found that many of our clients who have been able to maintain arm health in their recovery, consistency and repetitiveness of their pitches and their velocity and remain at a constant level are the ones who consistently work out throughout the season. In most cases you would never know if it was May or June as the end of a spring season compared to October or November which for many people is considered the off-season. Every day was as if it was the last day that they had to train. It did not matter for them if they were tired and fatigued in the ‘real’ season, they knew that they had to get their heavy work in, their arm care completed, their throwing drills worked on daily, and whatever else it took to compete during a long 3-4 month spring season.
At the professional level, starters throw every 5 days. By the 3rd day they are back into the bullpen and working on areas that they need to be ready for their start in 2 days. In college, starters go every 7 days and for many of them they are on the mound 1-2 times between starts. It should be no different at the elite, club and youth levels in terms of training. There are many different training types that can prepare a pitcher for the rigors of a season. And without feeling as if there are going to be exhausted for the next game.
At TZAcademy, we have classes every night of the week to accommodate pitchers in terms of their work that is needed in between games and starts. In many cases it is difficult to get additional work done at the high school practice. In almost all cases at the youth and travel ball level, players need 3-4 days to recover after a 3-6 game weekend in which the have pitched multiple times. This is directly due to the inability to train between weekends.
In our experience where players typically succeed and can stay consistently healthy and recover well are those who make the time to do work in between games and in between tournaments. It just has to be consistent work…. it does not have to interfere with school work, social time and other activities they may have. It just needs to be consistent on a daily basis whether that is 10, 20 or 60 to 90 minutes a day. There is always time to get work done. It is really just a matter of managing that time in order to fit everything in. And dare I say a tireless work ethic and the want to become the best they can be.
At TZAcademy, it is our goal to move players onto the next level. Ask us how we can markedly improve your game with a stronger arm that can recover at a much higher rate. It is what we do best!
Be sure to check out Showtime’s ’60 Minutes Sports’ piece this month on the Texas Baseball Ranch and how they go about working with players of all ages. TZAcademy is an affiliate of the Ranch and a teacher of the same principles that they offer their students.
Until next time…..