Off-season and In-Season Conditioning for Pitchers
By: David Marchbanks-January 1, 2007
One thing I have always prided myself on is my ability to condition my body for a long and grueling season. Iâve always felt like there are few things you can control in this game, but the one thing everyone can control is their work ethic and the way they prepare their bodies for a season. Running and weight lifting not only prepares your body but it also prepares your mind by constantly challenging yourself to make you mentally tougher. There are so many types of workouts out there, and you just have to find one that works for your body. I feel like there is no right or wrong workout, as long as you find a structured conditioning program and stay committed to it; you will get significant strength gains.
In this article I have outlined a basic off-season conditioning guide for young pitchers to properly prepare your mind, body and arm for the upcoming season. In part one, I addressed taking care of your arm and building your arm up for the upcoming season. In part two, Iâll discuss a good off-season conditioning program that has worked for me throughout my career.
There is a fine line between working hard, and over training, and everyone should know what that threshold is. Iâve always believed in building your body and arm up by separating your workout in stages, also called periodization. Your body needs a combination of rest and a variety of workouts to see maximum strength gains. The mistake a lot of young players make is that they want to continue to do the same workout, with the same amount of sets and reps, the entire off-season. If you expect to make strength gains, you have to shock your muscles and continue to build your body up through periodization.
The first stage of your off-season workout should be the rest stage after you finish your season. I would recommend taking about a month off from any throwing or weight training to allow your body and mind to rest after a long season. Itâs very important not to totally shut down your body during this phase. You want to stay fairly active by playing golf, basketball, racquetball, or just by jogging a couple of times a week to keep your heart going and to get your mind off the game.
When you reach the end of your rest phase, your body should feel fresh and rejuvenated and you should have specific goals you want to strive for in the off-season. The first phase after the rest period is called the power phase and your goal is to gain as much strength as possible during this phase. The off-season is your opportunity to maximize your results and go after you strength gain goals as hard as you can. During this phase you should do all of these exercises with maximum intensity and constantly challenge yourself to get stronger. Itâs also a good idea to keep a weekly log of the amount of weight you do on each exercise, so you can keep up with your improvement. In part III, I have outlined a basic off-season workout to follow. If there are any exercises that donât work for you, make any changes wherever necessary. Also, if you have any injuries make sure you talk to your school trainer before you do any of these workouts.
I would always do my power phase until around Thanksgiving Break and then I would switch to my season preparation workout. During this phase my goal would be to turn all of the strength I gained during the power phase and turn it into baseball strength through lower weight and higher repetitions. This phase should take you right into the beginning of your season and will get you the long, lean muscles you need for baseball functional strength. Also in Pat III, I have outlined a workout for a pre-season workout to follow. Like I said earlier, if any of these workouts do not work for you, then make whatever changes you feel necessary.
When I would start my season, I would start my in-season workout. Most young players do not realize the importance of your in-season conditioning, but it is just as important as your strength training in the off-season. You need to get at least two full body workouts in per week in order to maintain the strength you gained in the off-season. It is very important to schedule your workouts around your starts so you are fresh and fully recovered for your next one. In Part III, I have also outlined a basic in-season workout based on a one start per week rotation. If, for some reason, you are making two starts in a week, you should adjust accordingly.
What separates good players from great players is the way they prepare themselves for a season. If you follow a consistent workout regimen both in the off-season and during the season, you will put yourself in a position to be successful. As I stated above, there are several workouts out there that players can take advantage of. As long as you are following a consistent workout routine and your constantly challenging yourself to get stronger and better, then you will see significant strength gains.
About the author: David Marchbanks was South Carolinaâs Mr. Baseball in 2000 before an outstanding career at the University of South Carolina. As a Gamecock he made two trips to Omaha, was a First Team All-American and named SEC Pitcher of the Year in 2003 before being drafted in the seventh round by the Florida Marlins. He played two years in the organization topping out in Double-A. Presently, the 23-year-old Marchbanks is a coach for the South Carolina Diamond Devils and conducts pitching lessons in the Greenville area.