Restore lost Range of Motion
You can’t discuss in-season training without discussing the importance of restoring lost joint range of motion. It’s been widely stated among strength and conditioning coaches when discussing what we need to prioritize with our athletes during the long, intense, and grueling season. When you’re practicing or competing on an almost daily basis, the constant repetition of hitting, fielding, and throwing can take a toll on you. This is especially true for youth, high school, and some college baseball players who are playing almost daily, sometime multiple game a day during weekend tournaments that last 3-4 days.
We know that baseball players will lose range of motion over the course of the season due to the repetitive nature of motion. The primary goal is to keep players healthy and on the playing field as often as possible. With that, we need to ensure we’re prioritizing mitigating risk factors. Just as with anything else we want to at the very minimum maintain, they will be at greater risk of injury if they lose or minimize any other performance indicator if it’s not addressed or completely neglected.
We’re aware at this point that less-than-optimal range of motion will increase the risk of injury. The most common loses in range of motion we see is at the shoulder and elbow joints. We can’t only address those areas; we need to take an individualized and comprehensive approach to each athlete. Are goal as coaches is to get our athletes as close to 100% level readiness day-to-day. We need a strategy that addresses day-to-day that puts are athletes in the best position possible to get to 100% readiness for competition. We like them to take the warm-up as an opportunity to address their individual deficits in range of motion, just like we would during the off-season.
Every athlete goes through an assessment prior to beginning the off-season program to identify and address strengths, weaknesses, and limitations. We also determine where their mobility limitations lie and address in the warm-up section of the program. I often get asked by baseball players, “how should I go about warming up prior to practice and games?” The answer is simple, follow the same warm-up guidelines we give in the off-season. It will give them the opportunity to address their mobility deficits and improve their joint positioning and movement efficiency.
In the following newsletter, I will offer specific warm-ups we perform with our players daily. Aside from investing 20-25 minutes into daily warm-ups, we also address mobility deficits through other interventions such as movement circuits. This is something that can be accomplished multiple times throughout the week, if not daily. I will also give specific examples of how we program movement circuits into our in-season programming.