Note from our Athletic Performance Director, Sam Cumbo

When is the best time to maximize your development as an athlete?

Trick Question.  You should be growing and developing year-round.  No excuses.

There are two main reasons that you shouldn’t be taking more than 2 weeks off throughout the year to develop.

  1. If you aren’t training to GAIN strength/power, you’re going to lose strength/power
  2. The average season spreads from March to September which means you are playing for about half of the year.  Wasting 5-6 months a year of your development for all 4 years of high school leaves you 20-24 months behind athletes that are training year round.  That is 2 full years of training that they have on you!

Compare two high school freshman.  Athlete A chooses to train for the next 4 years, the WHOLE year.  Athlete B chooses to train for the next 4 years, but only in the off-season.  Athlete A, with a 2 year advantage in training will surely gain more muscle, gain more mobility, optimize mechanics better, gain better control of their body, and have a greater increase in performance ability.  There is no arguing the difference that a minimum of 160 additional training sessions over your competition will be impactful. Something miraculous would have to go wrong in order for that not to be true.

It seems like a no-brainer to train throughout the year, yet we see countless athletes put their foot on the brakes when the season comes around because they think it may interfere or hold them back from performing at a high level.  I’m here to tell you that it won’t interfere, but help continue to gain/maintain. Smart training will never interfere. Your plan should change throughout the year and there should be different periods of emphasis. For instance, when you are in-season, your strength and power workout SHOULD be the focal point.  Now is not the time to lose the strength you built up in the off-season. We should be focusing on strength and reducing volume. The volume of workouts are truthfully what makes a workout so daunting. On top of that, you need to be focusing on movement quality. Doing the same motion 5 days a weeks for 5 months tends to lead to some pretty significant adaptations such as:

  • Loss of shoulder internal rotation
  • Loss of hip internal rotation
  • Lumbopelvic Asymmetries
  • Increase in shoulder posterior capsule tension
  • Decrease in rotator cuff strength via supraspinatus

If you are not managing your body during the season you are simply asking for an injury.  It is easy to imagine those 5-6 months turning into 6-8 months because of injuries and visits to chiropractors/physical therapists.  Finding good healthcare professionals can absolutely be beneficial, but utilizing your “team” of professionals ahead of an injury is the ideal method of attack.  Remember, these adaptations can all be managed most of the time by simply staying on top of your movement quality. Stay ahead of your competition and take advantage of the time that they aren’t getting better.  Don’t be average. Be great.


Note from our Director of Player Development, Ron Bernick

To elaborate on this topic a little bit more, we should be training as a baseball/softball player during season as well! I remember the times when I was playing and we had practice or lift the day after a long road trip. Sometimes I didn’t understand why we needed that practices or the reasons why it was important.

I understand the reasoning why our coaches wanted us to practice — Think about this:

  1. You have a really good weekend hitting. You help your team win a couple games and you feel confident at the plate. If you come back home and don’t practice and repeat that same swing from now until your next game, you might forget the feeling you had when you were in the batter’s box.
  2. On the flip side, you had a poor weekend hitting. You come back home from your road trip and you don’t hit until your next game — did you ever correct the mistakes you made during the game? You need to take that time in between games or weekends to correct the mistakes that you made.

I deal with this EVERY YEAR and I think it’s time to change it. I have families that spend a lot of money training in the winter time to hit, field, pitch, etc. Once the season comes around, I don’t see them at all! People, in general, are creatures of habit. We like to get into routines and keep those routines. Baseball and softball players are the same way! We all like to stay in our routine. If you want to continue to work toward being an elite athlete, it is necessary for you to hit during the off season AND in season.

I had the luxury of talking with a family from Puerto Rico this week. The baseball in that country is so different! They use resources that we wouldn’t even think to use. They train at least 5 days a week on perfecting their craft. It’s amazing to think that a 10 year old kid can handle the workload of practicing 5 days a week, right? THAT IS WHAT IT TAKES TO BE GREAT! I use references with the kids all the time. Here’s a dialogue from on of my sessions last night:

12U Player — “Coach, I’m having a hard time understanding the idea of keeping my hands inside the ball. I know you went over drills and the explanation last week, but in my warm-up swings today, I’m having a hard time grasping the concept.”

COACH — “Well buddy, how many times this week did you practice keeping your hands inside the baseball? I know that practicing this skill is going to allow you to feel more comfortable with the movement.”

12U Player — “I took some dry swings and then hit off the tee once this week.”

COACH — *TEACHING POINT* — “Hitting, and anything in life, is kind of like math homework. Your teacher gives you math homework and worksheets to learn the skills, not to upset you. It’s the same thing with baseball! You can’t learn something in school and then not do it at home. You will never learn it. With baseball, once you learn a skill, you have to practice that skill so much that you can’t get it wrong. If you want to correct this part of your swing, you are going to have to practice it more. You don’t have to hit 500 balls every day, but you should take around 50 good swings every day and have a purpose to those swings.”

My point behind all of this is that I really think that training all year round allows a player to maximize their potential. I am also a big advocate for other sports. I believe that kids should be playing other sports, but that doesn’t mean you totally forget about baseball until baseball season. It’s the same thing for basketball season. If you want to be a good basketball player, you have to shoot and dribble and pass during your baseball season. It all works hand-in-hand.

Coach’s Challenge — I challenge EVERY baseball & softball player in Western New York to give this summer all you have!! WE want to see you train to get a lot stronger! WE want to see you hit, field and throw more than you have in year’s past. It’s time to take the next step in your development!

Please reach out to us to continue this push to become a more developed athlete for HC Performance Center for HC Baseball Academy

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