The Softball College World Series is in full effect. Many high school players are starting up with their travel teams. With that in mind, here are some insights about what do to for in-season training and why.
Keep Intensity High and Decrease Volume
Our primary goal during the season is to keep maximum strength as close to what it was during the off-season. If we lose maximum strength, we also lose our ability to produce more power. Power is the relationship between force, distance and time.
Power = (Force x Distance) / Time
To hold onto as much maximal strength as possible take one of the primary movements (SSB Squat, Front squat, Trap Bar, DB Bench Press) and perform 1-2 sets of 3-5 reps at 80-92% of your one rep max. Allow for full recovery between each set.
Don't Forget About Bar Speed
In a sport where moving fast is paramount, bar speed and intent to move the bar swiftly are known to improve power at the plate and speed on the base paths.
After your first lift, perform 5-8 sets x 2-3 reps at a lower intensity 65-75% with the primary goal being bar speed. Often I will incorporate accommodated resistance using chains. Chains allow the athlete to have a lighter bar weight at the start resulting in a smooth pull of the floor, but heavy enough at lockout to have a robust training effect.
Incorporate more Concentric only exercise
Adding in long eccentric and isometric tempos usually cause more soreness, fatigue and doesn't help our players during the season. Concentric only exercises are a smart way to still train hard and not experience the next day soreness and fatigue associated with it.
After your back down sets with your primary lifts, inserting concentric only accessory exercises are the way to go. Some examples would be, SSB Squat from pins (SSB), DB Goblet Step-Ups and reverse sled drags.
Use Specialty Bars
Throughout the long season, the wrists and elbows can take a beating. Changing the straight barbell out with a more "shoulder friendly" bar such as an SSB and switch out the Texas Deadlifting Bar for a High Setting Trap Bar with straps. These are all great bars to help reduce the wear and tear on your athlete's joints.
Insert-Low Impact Forms of Conditioning
When planning an in-season program allow for one of the three days to be labeled as a "recovery" day. I prefer performing shorter sessions 20-30 minutes of low impact forms of cardio such as reverse sled drags, biking or extensive med ball (perturbations) work as these have all been shown to increase work capacity, decrease recovery time and have a low CNS impact.
Putting it all together.
Day 1 – Perform after a game
PRE-WORK: Repeat circuit for 2-3 rounds.Watch video below. Do this before you start the lifting portion.
Sample Lift: Day 1
Trap Bar Deadlift – 1x3 @ @ 85%
Trap Bar Deadlift vs 40lb of Chains. 5x3 @ 65% *move the bar FAST
C1. DB Goblet Step-Ups 8/side @ 8RPE
C2. Standing 1-arm Cable Rows – 8/side @ 8 RPE
C3. Slow Motion Reverse Bear Crawl – 10yds
Complete C1-C3 for 8-10 mins in a non-step fashion
D Core and shoulder/arm care
Day 2 – Day Before Game
Split-Squat receive and release
Pogo Jumps with Dowel
Figure 8 Rotational Med Ball Shotput – non-dominate side only
SSB Squat to Box 1x3 @ 80%
Anderson Pin Front Squats 8 x 1 @ 8 RPE * move the bar FAST
C1. TRX Row 8-10
C2. 1-arm DB Bench Press 8/side @ 8 RPE
C3. Adductor Stretch with Paloff Press 8/side
Complete C1-C3 for 8-10mins in a non-stop fashion
D Core and Shoulder/Arm Care
Day 3 - Recovery Day
Perform after a long tournament or back to back games
A. Extensive Med Ball Circuit
High Lateral Taps
Repeat for 4 rounds at 25 taps per exercise with 2-4lb
B. Reverse Sled Drag
6 x 30yds at 7 RPE