I got a great question from a parent the other day I wanted to share with you:
“What are your thoughts about strength and conditioning during baseball season to prepare my 14-year-old son for football?”
I think every parent has an assumption about this topic that is either rooted from their personal experience as an athlete and what they were exposed to and/or what they have researched on the internet.
What is your assumption?
The truth is, if your player is in a good program that is tailored to them, then strength training and conditioning can be powerful in helping their performance in-season on the field or court. In breaking down this parent’s question as it pertained to her son, here are five reasons why I said “yes” he can and should be training.
5 Reasons to Train For Football During Baseball Season
1. Helping to maintain body weight
Often baseball players will lose weight over the course of a baseball season. Some of that weight will be water volume and some will be lean muscle tissue. Losing body weight via water or lean tissue loss will negatively affect performance. A dehydrated and thinner body will not produce the same power and explosiveness as a healthy, hydrated body. This parent’s son will be transitioning right from baseball season into football. This transition time is not enough time to likely restore the body to where it was prior to baseball season.
2. Maintaining strength
Maintaining strength directly ties to the first point. Strength training is the stimulus the body needs to continue to build lean muscle tissue and reverse the natural decline that happens when strength training is stopped. Maintaining strength really is not the most accurate way to phrase it. In reality, we are either gaining strength or losing strength. For this parent’s son, to walk into a football season in the “losing strength” mode is not going to lead to the performance outcome he is looking for.
3. Helping the body adapt to football demands faster
Football and baseball are very different in their physical demands and athletes transitioning from baseball to football will have a shock to their bodies that they will have to overcome. That shock comes from the lack of preparation of the specific physical intensity football creates. An in-season program has the opportunity to progressively build the athlete’s body up to those more intense requirements without overtaxing them physically for their in-season sport. This preparation will help the athlete adapt sooner, be less sore, and perform closer to top performance right away when football practice starts.
4. Preparing the athlete to get into “football shape”
The fitness demands in football easily exceed that of baseball. In baseball, there could be upwards of a 1:20 work to rest ratio whereas in football the ratio is closer to 1:6. In football, a 1-way player will have about 70 plays while in baseball there might be 30 balls put into play in a 9-inning game. In football, a player will run twice as many plays with 70% less time between plays. An in-season strength and conditioning program will help the athlete’s fitness to be gradually built up so they will be at or close to “football shape” when making the transition between sports.
5. In-season training should not affect your performance
The first goal of in-season training is to make sure the athlete can continue to perform when it matters at a high level. An athlete cannot do that if they are sore.
Soreness comes from inappropriate exercise selection, inappropriate progressions in volume and/or intensity, and an inability to recover from previous bodily stresses (which could be exercise or sports induced).
In a youth baseball season the schedule can be erratic, so the in-season program has to be constructed in such a way that takes into consideration the weekly volume and intensity as well as game and practice schedules.
If an athlete normally trains Monday and Wednesday and this week only has games on the weekend, then our volume and intensity could be a little more intensified as the athlete will have time to fully recover. On the flip side, if a makeup game is scheduled for Tuesday then we know we need to have less volume and intensity Monday but on Wednesday we could amp it back up and focus on those key area needed to prep for football.
In-season training is something that many parents and coaches tend to overlook the value in. For a multi-sport athlete who goes from one in-season to the next, they inevitably will see a drop in performance.
Remember, your athlete is either “gaining” or “loosing”.
Written By: Travis Manners, PT, SCS, CSCS, Owner & Founder