Well, the 2011 baseball offseason has officially arrived at Driveline Baseball / Driveline Athletics. My last fall ball game was over the weekend, and all of our clients have finished their fall ball, tennis, or are training for the 2012 season anyway (a former pro and Olympic pitcher trying to get a 2012 Spring Training invite as well as our shot put / discus / javelin throwers who have spring-only seasons). To be honest, I’m really looking forward to it – the baseball season lasts way too long, and I while I play fall ball myself, I’m in it for recreation. Nothing’s on the line. Comparatively, you have youth athletes throwing 100+ innings going into the fall season who are already really beat up from a grueling spring and summer program with their high schools, colleges, and select teams.
Fall ball is one of the worst things to happen to competitive youth baseball by a long shot. I completely agree with Eric Cressey, who decries fall baseball, showcases, and the like. However, we differ in a pretty big area – time off of throwing. He (and most other organizations, to be fair) prescribes at least 3 months of total rest from throwing. Comparatively, we recommend pitchers never take an extended break from throwing! (Exceptions: Pre-pubescent athletes, professional pitchers.)
Throwing Year-Round: Our Theory
I want to get one thing straight: Driveline Baseball is completely against the concept of pitching year-round. Let me make that very clear: We do not endorse pitching year-round for anyone. However, our athletes will generally finish up their fall ball seasons (sigh) and come into the facility more often for workouts. They might take a week completely off of throwing at the most, then they throw batting practice, weighted baseballs, and long toss on a schedule.
It’s important to separate pitching from throwing. We endorse throwing year-round for athletes trying to improve. There’s simply no skill you get better at by not doing it, and our theory is that you need to learn how to throw before you can pitch. (Not a single one of our athletes is at the point where they have their throwing mechanics down pat and can instead focus entirely on pitching.)
Now, athletes that throw year-round need to carefully manage IR/ER balance in their shoulders and have training in their program to mitigate too much rapid elbow extension outside of their throwing program – so we’ll scale back medicine ball work where the elbow is rapidly extending (chest pass variants) and add in a lot of IR stretching to balance out GIRD-related issues many pitchers tend to have. Pitchers naturally gain shoulder external rotation (ER) as they throw more – and they tend to lose internal rotation (IR) as well. Post-throwing stretching, IR stretches with The Rotator, and soft tissue manipulation can all help to mitigate muscular and movement imbalances in the pitcher’s shoulder.
The Offseason is For Gains – The Season is For Displaying Them
In any responsible training program, the athlete will be busting his rear in the offseason and taking it relatively easy during the competitive season. This fall/winter will be no different in our baseball training program as athletes will be challenged across multiple domains of fitness – strength, speed, agility, endurance, and sport-specific skills. They can expect to move around some heavy weights, throw some medicine balls against concrete walls, perform their sprint drills with a weighted sled, and all sorts of throwing and hitting drills.
Come join us this offseason! Spots are limited for the 2011-2012 training season.