Q: Alex, I’m currently playing in the Costal Plains League (College Summer League) and I find myself often sore for my games. I play pretty much every day so the daily grind is taking a toll on my body. What do I do to not play sore? Do I stop lifting? Stretch more before games? PLEASE HELP!
Adam, I’ve gotten this question quite a bit over the course of the last couple weeks as summer ball has been in full swing. I have GOOD NEWS! I absolutely can help you here. Unlike college where you play three to four times a week, summer ball, especially collegiate summer ball, is played every night. This poses the question: How do we recover on a daily basis to be at full-strength day-in and day-out? This is my five-part answer:
1. Mobility/Flexibility – After a game, the last thing you want to do is stretch, I get it. I hated doing it when I played too but it pays TREMENDOUS dividends to you feeling good for your next game. For this, keep it short so that you will actually complete the routine everyday. Here’s a 5 minute sample routine you can do anywhere.
- Glute Stretch on Wall: 1-2 minutes
- Rear Foot Elevated Hip Flexor Stretch: 1-2 minutes (elevate your back leg on achair, sofa, bed ect.) Also make sure to contract (squeeze) your glute.
- Groin Rockers: 20 total rocks each leg
- 90/90 Hip Mobility Flow: 1-2 minutes
- BONUS: Banded Hamstring Stretch – stretch the hamstring softly in multipleranges/angles
2. A Solid In-Season Strength Program – When I played, it always amazed me to see how some guys trained in-season during high school, college, and even pro ball. I would see guys crushing 2 hour intensive lower body sessions or training just shoulders to failure. I would even see guys working with 1RM (maximal loads) trying to “bulk up” for fall ball at their respective school. This is a recipe for disaster. You can’t DOMINATE on the field and train like it’s the offseason. You only have so much energy you can expend. If all of it is spent in the gym, whats left for the game? In-season strength training should be used to maintain strength levels as well as keep you strong for your games so there are no drops in power output. How often should you lift in-season? Two to three times a week. What kind of workouts should you focus on? Full-body workouts. I also don’t recommend working with loads any more than 70% of your 1RM. That seems to be the sweet spot with the big lifts (squat, floor press, Hex Bar Deadlift ect.) I program for my athletes.
For a sample in-season workout check out La Roche College Baseball Athletes: Luis Navedo & Colin Williamson perform RECHARGE – “Workout of The Month”
3. Nutrition & Post Game Recovery Meals – Post game recovery and nutrition are extremely over looked. I’m no nutrition guru but for optimal recovery after a game I know your body doesn’t want a hot dog or piece of pizza. I say that because 90 percent of time when I played in the perfect game collegiate league that was the food we were getting every night. Sorry PGCBL guys, your food sucks, upgrade that crap!! For optimal recovery post game, you should look to a high quality protein source (meat, eggs, fish) even a protein shake will get the job done. You should also have a good carbohydrate to replenish glycogen levels, and a high quality fat source. Feed your body well and it WILL recover better.
4. SMR Work (Foam Rolling, Lax Ball Rolling ect.) – ROLL, ROLL, ROLL!!! After you perform that quick mobility/flexibility routine I talked about above, grab your lax ball, baseball, foam roller and start rolling. I suggest to hit all your “tight” spots, everyones body is different but three areas I suggest everyone to address is their feet, glutes, and back. Remember to breathe and go nice and slow while rolling. Fascia (connective tissue) doesn’t respond well to fast controlled movements.
5. Sleep – No brainer here. I know it’s tough with bus trips, spending time with the team, hanging out with friends ect. However, for maximum recovery, I would really shoot for 7 to 8 hours. Anything less than that and it becomes increasingly tough to recover properly for your game the next day.
There is no one area to focus on more than the other. Each category listed above plays an integral part to how you recover on a daily basis. If all five are on point, there should be no problems with recovery. Hope this helps Adam, and good luck the rest of summer!