As many of you many know, TNL is home to a handful of professional baseball players. The same long-term planning is used for them that is also used for the youth baseball/softball players starting their off-seasons come September. When you think about it, their seasons are roughly the same timeline as the youth playerʼs season, they start in March and typically end in September/October. This gives an athlete a maximum of 26 weeks (6.5 months!) to prepare for the next season. Going into the 2018 off-season, Lou Martini, came back from his season to go over how he wanted to prepare for 2019. What he discussed from his perspective is something that most youth /HS baseball teams fail to mention, which is why I want to share this with you.
Lou is a professional baseball player that now has 5 season under his belt for his career (2015-2019). During the 2018 campaign, Lou was coming off a ﬁrst time All-Star selection in the Pecos League while having career highs in batting average (.348), OPS (1.071), runs (76), steals (15), and doubles (15). That caliber of a season was able to get Lou a contract in the Paciﬁc Association in California for the 2019 season. Lou is a 6ʼ1, 205 lb shortstop, deadlifts 405+ for reps, lunges 315+ for reps, vertical jump that is 30+ inches, AND has a 1.5 second 10yd dash split. Deﬁnitely not your average athlete, and on the ﬁeld he has power at the plate, the ability to swipe a bag when he needs to, and shown to have the durability 60+ games a season.
On the other hand, during spring training 2018 Lou dealt with a hamstring strain, and then during the regular season he dealt with posterior shoulder contusion after being hit by pitch 4 times in one series in the same location. One more controllable than the other, but getting those on the right track again were a big point of emphasis for the off-season. On the mental side of things when it comes to training, there are not many other athletes, if any, that can ﬂip the switch and push the limits of not only their bodies, but their minds as well as Lou does. From the technical side of things we knew he needed to prioritize these factors:
1. Regain lost bodyweight - 60 games played in 63 days (not including spring training games). Started season at 205, ﬁnished at 185.
2. Improve posterior chain strength and mobility at the hips
3. Improve shoulder health via self myofascial release, arm care and mobility exercises.
4. SPEED - continue to increase # of stolen bases per year
5. Durability - be ready to play another 80-100 game season, plus travel.
As previously mentioned, Lou brought up some factors during his initial offseason assessment that I believe are neglected with youth baseball and softball players. He discussed 3 big ticket items: 1) ﬁrst getting healthy & symmetrical immediately after the season, 2) setting on-ﬁeld training goals, so that training can be built towards accomplishing them, 3) understanding who you are as an athlete to play an entire season healthy. Letʼs break those three down a little more.
Before really getting into his true off-season mode, Lou stressed the importance of making sure he was moving right again by attending to getting symmetrical, feeling healthy, and putting on lost bodyweight after such a long season. As we know baseball/ softball are very asymmetrical in nature. Meaning we are constantly doing things with one side of our bodies or favoring one side of the body repetitively for 6+ months. Right off the bat he wanted to put a lot of time/energy on improving soft tissue quality, improving mobility, and general physical preparation in order to feel healthy and move better. Additionally, we incorporated higher amounts of volume for his training to help get his bodyweight trending back in the right direction. Side note - within 4 weeks he was already back up 15 lb to where he wanted to be for the off-season.
Second, he discussed setting goals has been HUGE for creating a path toward success with his career. Lou mentioned that he had set goals for speciﬁc on-ﬁeld accomplishments for himself and wanted them to dictate what his training focus will be for the off-season. This way both he and I would be on the same page with everything. He also acknowledged what has been success for him in previous off-seasons and what might not have been as beneﬁcial. He is a believer in, if you are constantly looking for newer things do to for training then you forget what has helped in the past. So we developed the plan to ﬁnd the common ground of doing whatʼs been successful, but also still incorporate newer training methods and techniques he might not have experienced in previous off-seasons. One of his big goals for last off-season was to set another career high in steals for this current season. He believed that if he increased his speed, then as a middle in-ﬁelder he would be looked at as more valuable. Setting goals creates the self-awareness for the last point...
The ﬁnal big ticket item that Lou stressed the importance of was understanding who he was an athlete. The season in which he played the least amount of games in his career was also the season that he went into with the biggest frame. It took for those speed bumps for both he and I to realize that somethings needed to be changed for future off-seasons. “Being a physical monster is great and all, but I also need to be prepared to play everyday and the entirety of season.” We both had to understand that he had gotten to a point with size and strength that were right where he needed to be, so we did not need to push the envelop as hard on that front risk getting hurt while training or setting him up for another future injury. At those higher levels from high school to college and college to professional seasons, weʼve recognized the fact that there are more games (and are more frequently played), plus game speeds are faster requiring a higher intensity on the ﬁeld.
If you are in high school or middle school, there is no reason as to why you should not be treating your physical preparation any different than the way Lou or any of the other professional baseball players do. Being available to play is always the #1 priority. The best day to start training was yesterday! Put the work in now to develop into the player you want to be next season. If you are interested in training along side some professional baseball players this off-season click the button below and weʼll get you set up for the Fall Athlete Training Block! Starts September 3rd.