By Alex Kelly
Baseball is a unique sport. The term “off-season” varies from player to player. The length of the season can last 6 months, and for some even more. Games start in the spring when the weather gets nice and goes all summer long. Some continue playing into the fall leaving just the winter months to be called off-season. With such a long season, the body and mind need a break. It is a good idea to take some time away from the game, let your body rest and recover.
However if you are looking to have a better season and be a better player next year, the off-season is the time to start. Too many young ball players approach the entire off-season as a break and do not start training until practice starts. It is critical to understand the importance of training in the off-season so you are at your best when practices start, not shaking off the rust.
- Improve Your Weaknesses
Baseball is a game of failure. No player is perfect in every aspect of the game. We all have weaknesses. The off-season is the best time to work on those weaknesses and turn them into strengths.
“My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength.” – Michael Jordan
As a player you must humble yourself and be real that there are parts of your game you can work on and improve. Figure out the areas you need work on, and then attack them – otherwise they will remain a weakness.
- Become A Better Overall Athlete
The off-season is the time to develop your body. For those old enough, (typically high school age) a strength training program is key to packing on muscle and getting stronger. Too many young players are lacking in strength and they wonder why they can’t hit bombs or throw 90. If all you do is hit in the cages, or just throw bullpens without going through some type of workout regimen then do not expect to make significant strides for the upcoming year. Strength is just one component. Developing and improving your flexibility, mobility, speed and quickness are all major factors you should be working on in the off-season.
- Injury Prevention
Off-season training is not only important in becoming a better athlete, but in preventing injuries as well. The baseball season is a long one, and if you don’t take care of your body injuries are bound to happen. Getting in the best physical shape possible for the upcoming year will help you avoid injuries. It is wise to take some time off throwing the ball after the season ends. However taking the entire off-season off from throwing is probably not the smartest thing to do. The last thing any player wants is to get injured, especially at the beginning of the season. Make sure you are not that guy in the doctors’ office because you didn’t prepare properly.
- Prepare For Next Year
Being satisfied and becoming complacent with what you accomplished the past season is a huge mistake. The off-season is time to set new goals, get a plan together on how you are going to achieve them, and then go do it. It is easy to dream about the player you want to be. It is much harder actually putting in the work and being consistent every day working towards those goals. Learn to enjoy the training, with the ups and the downs. If you dread training, then it only becomes that much harder.
- Develop A Strong Work Ethic
This could be the biggest reason why off-season training is so important. Developing a strong work ethic is key to long lasting success. This goes for life in general, not just baseball. Learning how to put in the work, going through the grind in the off-season and working towards achieving certain goals goes a long way in building ones character. It comes down to two things you have complete control over: your attitude and your effort. Having a positive attitude towards off-season training will do wonders for the effort you put into it. They go hand in hand – and you are in control.
At the end of the day, off-season training is crucial for many reasons. Take your time to rest and recover after the season is over. Use that time to set goals and set up an action plan on how you want to achieve them. Then go execute it. Your future self will be glad you did!