WHY IT MATTERS.
In-season strength & conditioning is a topic that has garnered more popularity when it comes to the general public over the past several years. The myth about in-season training is that it will make you weak and fatigued for competition...however, that could not be farther from the truth! It should be a given that if you train at the same intensity and frequency as you did in the off-season then, yes, that previous statement would be true. This is the reason why professional and collegiate sports teams have qualified strength & conditioning coaches working with them YEAR ROUND.
This should not be any different for youth athletes (middle school to high school), who in most cases, have been busting their butts with their off-season training for the past 3-6 months. You want to be able to maintain or continue to progress all of the gains that you have been working so hard for to get you ready for the season!
I think back to when I first got into training at the beginning of my freshman year standing at a WHOPPING 5‘nothing and 100 lbs with soaking wet. I trained from September through March, making great progress and I even training during soccer and winter track season! As soon as baseball season started because I went cold turkey as I did not know any better. When I began training at my facility again in Late August that year, I was quickly humbled with the fact I had lost a lot of the progress I built up the previous year.
I had aspirations of playing Division 1 baseball since my middle school days and wound up turning that into reality 3 years later. During that process, I came to the realization that training wasn't just seasonal. My older brother was a 4-year member of the Seton Hall baseball team at the time and saw that they didn't stop training during their season. So if I wanted to be at the level then why should I?
With all of that being said, here are 3 reasons training in-season is a non-negotiable:
At some point during the season, your body may not feel 100% and that is expected. The 2 priorities of off-season training is to #1 minimize risk of injury and #2 improve physical performance. Recovery is a top priority in-season, so that you can stay as fresh as possible which helps you show-case your skills and help your team compete to win on a daily basis. If that is not the case, then all of the time and work spent during the off-season will not make as much of an impact. Recovery is what separates the great from the average.
At TNL, we have various methods & pieces of equipment that we use to aid in the recovery process:
• Foam rollers, lax balls, & stick rollers for self-myofascial release aka self-massaging
• Electronic muscle stimulators (EMS & Stim) to improve muscle recovery
• Cupping sets - to improve tissue quality
• Mobility circuits - to keep the body fresh and prepare for the week ahead
• Sleep - getting ~8 hours of sleep can do a young athlete wonders.
- It is on record that elite athletes like LeBron James & Tom Brayd sleep 12 & 9 hours, respectively, during their seasons
• Nutrition - Food is fuel!
- If you eat right and put quality food choices into your system, you will function better. There's reason why sports cars take premium gas & not regular.
During the season we are looking to CONTINUE increasing strength & power, but in a smart & calculated manner that won't affect on-field performance. We don't necessarily "take our foot off the gas" at TNL during the season. After 3 years of data collection with the TNL athletes, throughout a season we've see 5-10% increases in strength with trap bar deadlifts & reverse lunging, and also 10-20% increases in power with vertical jumping.
It is on record that NFL teams are training all throughout the playoffs, even leading into the Super Bowl at high intensities too. The point of training is not peak when the season begins, but for the 2nd half of the season. We want to avoid any loss of declines in physical performance such as a drop in pitching velocity. There are many cases where pitching velocity will increase during a season when an athlete is training in-season. As they say, “you use it or you lose it,” so eliminate any possibility of losing off-season gains by not staying consistent with training during the season!
An in-season training program should be reverse engineered to be benefit the athlete's weekly schedule. That is where we come in as professional coaches or better yet, STRESS MANAGERS. In-season stress management or programming is designed to accommodate a variety of factors: weekly workload, game days, practice schedules, sport demands, etc. Great in-season training combines & emphasizes both RECOVERY & PERFORMANCE, while considering all the aforementioned factors. If you've already spent 6-months training in structured environment, why deviate during the season like HS Freshman Connor did? Whether it is 1, 2, or in some cases 3 days per week, there is an in-season training program to help keep your fresh and strong throughout the season.
Check back in for Part 2: HOW we approach in-season training in our Elite Athlete Development Program
PS - Don’t be like freshman in high school Connor and get negative gains. Train in-season