4 THINGS TO DO IF YOU’RE NOT PLAYING FALL BALL
If you’re a baseball or softball player, the fall is the perfect time to step away from the field to work on your game. This means getting in the weight room and spending those late nights in the cage.
I recently sat down with DeSoto Central High School Baseball Coach Mark Monaghan to discuss the benefits of the fall offseason and how to properly approach it. Together we have put together a framework for your offseason work through the eyes of a baseball coach and strength coach.
Coach Monaghan and I met in 2013 through a mutual athlete and have continued to work together over the last six years. Since 2013, Desoto Central Baseball has won 3 state championships, 4 North Half Mississippi Championships, 1 North Mississippi Runner Up Title and has been ranked as high as number 5 in the country by USA Today after the 2019 season. They have had six players drafted by the MLB, including two directly out of high school. There have been 10+ ball players go on to continue their careers in the SEC, and even more go on to the Division II or JUCO level.
IF YOU HATE READING HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
• Develop Your GPP – General Physical Preparedness. Move a lot and in different directions.
• Build Your Relative Strength: Get Stronger!
• Get Your Body and Mind Right.
• Take Care of Your Joints. Work On Your Mobility and Flexibility.
HERE’S THE BREAKDOWN FOR YOU:
1. Develop GPP (aka: General Physical Preparedness). Early fall is a great time to build your level of GPP. GPP can be viewed as the foundation for your fitness, strength and power development. For example: If you can’t do burpees without questioning if you’re going to have a heart attack, do you really think you’re in any type of state to play at the highest level? I tell our guys that GPP is a “bunch of random stuff.” It doesn’t build Absolute Strength or Absolute Speed, but it lays the foundation for you to be able to build those other qualities when the time is appropriate.
COACH MONAGHAN: The best baseball players are the best athletes. Build yourself up as an athlete and you’ll become a better baseball player. I like seeing guys who are in such great shape that they “get loose to throw, not throw to get loose.” Be drenched in sweat prior to even throwing and have that foundation.
WHAT WE DO: At Elite Level we love to do GPP work of all kinds. Sled pulls of all varieties; body weight movements and loaded carriers that challenge the body from all angles are some of our favorites. We also incorporate a heavy amount of FRC into our GPP work. There’s more about that in the fourth point.
2. Build Your Relative Strength: Relative Strength can be thought of as “strength per pound of body weight.” An athlete who weights 180lbs and deadlifts 300lbs has a significant advantage over an athlete who weights 230lbs and can deadlift 300lbs. If you don’t have the strength to support and move your body you’re already behind the eight ball. Having good relative strength sets you up to develop other elements along the strength/speed continuum.
COACH MONAGHAN: Strength, and the ability to display strength, is what holds so many athletes back. So many guys are stationary and one dimensional in their strength. Having good relative strength helps set you up for more explosiveness and power in the long run.
WHAT WE DO: We like to emphasize two different points of relative strength. The first is strength in positional isometrics. Positional isometric strength deals with placing the body in extreme joint angles and either contracting or holding a position for a prescribed time. This is the stuff nightmares are made of. Once an athlete shows a sufficient level of understanding and control in these positions they can move into move advanced work like loading these movements, etc. The second element of relative strength we emphasize is building the main core lifts (bench, squat, deadlift). I will openly admit I am not a huge fan of the traditional back squat for athletes and prefer to train it from a different perspective. But that’s for another article.
3. Get Your Body And Mind Right!
“If you can’t see yourself doing it, you never will.” There’s a lot of truth to that statement. Fall provides a time to step back from the game and evaluate your mental and physical state. Maybe you’re carrying too much body-fat and that’s slowing your 60 time down. Or maybe you’ve got a lingering injury that needs time to heal. Are you in a slump at the plate and can’t get out of your head? Sometimes taking a step back is better than pushing harder. More is not always better.
COACH MONAGHAN: Relearn your body. Take the time to listen to it. This can help you “know your arm” more when the season starts. Get in touch with yourself so you can communicate to us properly how you’re feeling so we can help direct you accordingly throughout the season.
WHAT WE DO: Every athlete is different and their individual needs should be addressed in such a manner. We connect some athletes with Mandy, our Certified Natural Health Practitioner, to take a look at how efficient their body is working. Other times they’ll work with our Vision Performance Specialist Dr. Brandon Walley on improving their eye hand coordination. I’ve even been known to send athletes outside and simply stand barefoot in the grass next to a tree (aka: grounding) and meditate.
4. Joint Care and Working on Your Mobility and Flexibility. In our opinion, this is arguably the most important element. Find yourself a Functional Range Conditioning Specialist (FRCms) and get to work. FRC practitioners specifically work on joint development (think mobility and strength). FRC practitioners can be found within organizations such as the: Dodgers, Cubs, Padres, Diamondbacks, Phillies, Mariners, Braves, Astros and many more. If it’s good enough for them then there’s likely a good chance you’d benefit from it.
COACH MONAGHAN: It’s really important to maintain your flexibility and mobility throughout a long season. This goes right along with being a better athlete. The fall is a good time to work on this. This may not always be as fun as lifting but it’s arguably just as, or more, important. You need to be able to maintain your flexibility and mobility throughout the season.
WHAT WE DO: As you become a better baseball/softball player you get worse at being a human. Through the FRC protocols we can assist an athlete or individual in the proper development of their joints and associated mobility. This isn’t the “mobility workout of the day,” in fact it’s far from it. Once new range of motion is established in a joint, strength must be developed in that new range of motion. This is a far cry from yoga as well. What good does it do to be flexible and mobile if you can’t control it?
BONUS TIP: Throw something everyday other than a baseball or softball!
Use the fall to get yourself right and work on your weak points. Good coaches and successful programs understand that taking time off the field to address your game can pay major dividends. Addressing the aforementioned areas is a great starting point and will undoubtedly help you in your quest to be the best baseball/softball player you can be. For more information you can email me at email@example.com or visit any of our social media pages.
John Nelson, MS CES CPT FRCms