We are coming up on the time of year when baseball is no longer on the calendar for a few months. It’s inevitable that players will have some rust to shake off in the new year when they report for conditioning and preseason training. However, here are a few things that you can do during the offseason to stay as sharp as you can and be ready to go when the Spring season starts.
1. Swinging the Bat You do not have to go to the field or the cage to get your swings in. If you have a tee and a net at home, hit 50-100 balls off the tee each day. Change the position of the tee to challenge yourself. Each swing needs to be treated like a new pitch at the plate. This repetition will help build the muscle memory to help you when you get back to the field. I would recommend investing in a tee and a net if you do not have one. It’s not always feasible to go to the field or the cage but having the tools at the house will remove excuses and create opportunity to train when other options aren’t feasible. If you do not have a tee and a net, you can always swing your bat in an open space like you are timing a pitcher in the on-deck circle. Repetition is key!
2. Running for Distance Running is something that you can do anytime of the year. So many aspects of many different sports require running. Running is good for conditioning, building leg strength, and endurance. Spend a little bit of time running during the offseason. It doesn’t have to be every day, but once or twice over the entire break is not enough. Set up a consistent schedule for training and include time for running.
3. Baserunning You don’t have to wait for practice to working on your baserunning skills. You can practice your techniques for taking leads, reacting to a pickoff move, and getting a good jump off the pitcher to steal. Work on getting faster reaction time and better timing by yourself or with a friend. If you don’t have anyone to help you, you can use your imagination to create the scenario you want to work on. By the time the season rolls back around, you will be an offensive weapon on a different level.
4. What About Defense? You can spend a lot of time working on defensive drills during the offseason. However, I would caution you about throwing the ball much if you play both Spring and Fall baseball. Your arm needs time to rest during the offseason. Most professional players do not throw much at all during the offseason and their break is close to 4 months. If you only play Spring baseball (maybe because you play a different sport in the Fall), through starting in December isn’t a bad idea. Besides the throwing aspect, you can still work on your glove skills as often as possible. A good routine to use if you have someone to hit balls to you would be to take an empty bucket to the position you are working on in the field and focus on your glove mechanics and footwork in fielding the ball. Then, instead of throwing the ball in, simply drop the ball in the bucket and take the next one. This will help you preserve your arm and keep track of the amount of reps you are getting in your fielding.
Now, there are obviously more things you can do in the offseason, but these are a few quick items you can focus on to stay sharp. Besides my philosophy about throwing in the offseason, there is one other area of caution I would give regarding younger players. In my opinion, if the player doing the workouts is younger than 14 years old, I would not allow them to do any kind of weight training beyond a 5lbs dumbbell. Players that young their bodies haven’t developed enough for weight training and you can do more damage than good. All in all, if you work on these skills in the offseason, you can elevate your game for the next season and continue to build on that foundation.