I think that most of you realize that you need some time away from softball during the offseason to avoid overuse injuries and mental burnout. This break also provides an opportunity for you to reconnect with your family and friends since you probably haven’t been seeing much of them except when they are driving you to practices and games. But WHEN should you take a break? How long should the break be? What else should you be doing during the break?
I’m so glad you asked.
It can be tricky. More than ten days off in a row unfortunately causes you to lose a large percentage of your recent gains. For that reason, if you are entering the off-season after being injured or haven’t played in a while for other reasons, I suggest that you continue with a normal training schedule. Similarly, if you just started pitching and are finally starting to get the hang of the motion, now isn’t the best time to be stopping.
Last year, I had a wonderful young student who had taken a long break from pitching lessons. When she chose to come back to lessons, however, she was very determined and had gained about 13 miles per hour in a very short period of time.
Yup, that is not a typo: 13.
And she is still gaining speed.
So for this lovely young lady, I didn’t recommend taking a break at the time, because it could have really stalled her amazing momentum. She was on a roll and the break might have hurt that progress.
For everyone else, you want to schedule a rest period that is anywhere from 2-4 weeks long. If your season is over and you don’t plan on attending any showcases, you might want to take that break right now. If you have showcases or important camps and clinics coming up, then plan your break either immediately after they are over (I wouldn’t recommend waiting if these showcases are in January) OR take a break at any point that allows you to have two weeks time to ramp up your training and therefore look great at the showcase. For example, if you have a showcase on December 14th, you could take a break from now until December 1st.
I strongly recommend prepping for your March season beginning in January, at which point there are only about 8 weeks left until the start of the season. Starting back up in January allows you to gradually increase your pitch count, work on speed, and work on spins. If you wait any longer than that, you won’t be able to address all of those areas.
Finally, you should be CROSS-TRAINING and improving your nutrition and sleep during your break. Here are some programs that I love for cross-training. They are ALL available at Beachbody on Demand for only $99 for the year (sometimes they even have a free 14-day trial).
3 Week Yoga Retreat: This is excellent for any age group. Some of my athletes actually do this program with their parents. It will challenge your balance, but will also work on the mental component of your game. 3 weeks is also a perfect amount of time for the off-season, but the workouts are not overwhelming, so you could easily continue this program in-season as well.
Shift Shop: Every year, I have clients spending wayyyyy too much money on agility training, when they could be getting all of the same benefits from doing Shift Shop. This program uses agility markers and plyometric drills to help you become more explosive. It’s very challenging, but perfect for working on those quick twitch muscle fibers.
80 Day Obsession: Okay, obviously this thing is 80 Days Long. So you probably will continue into the season with this one. The reason why I love this program for pitchers is for its focus on the glutes and its use of strength slides (all pitchers should own strength slides). The glutes have to activate in a big way for you to get a strong finish at the end of your pitch, but most girls tend to be weak in this area (especially the medial glutes). This program is considered advanced but there are plenty of modifications. I was doing it when I was 9 months pregnant, so no excuses!
P90X: There is P90X, P90X2, and P90X3. Not gonna lie: I don’t much care for the original P90X. X2 and X3, however, are amazing. These are also considered very advanced, but you can certainly modify.
Core De Force: This is some of my favorite cardio. For pitchers, the kicks are similar to the kicks that you should create with your left leg (if you are a righty) as you drive out towards the catcher. I also love the intensity and the way the breaks are timed. There are higher intensity intervals and lower intensity intervals in every workout.
There are other amazing programs in Beachbody On Demand, but these are the best for pitchers. I would recommend limiting any overhead motions, however, and replacing them with other exercises. For $99 for the whole year (hello! that’s like one session with a personal trainer), you can’t possibly go wrong.
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