The off-season offers baseball players an opportunity to focus on developing themselves, both athletically and specifically as players. The goal is to recover from injuries sustained during the previous season, build muscular strength and mass, develop greater power and agility and improve baseball skills.
Building Mass and Strength
Weight training workouts are of higher volume during the off-season because they’re designed to increase muscle size. Lift weights four days per week. Focus on your chest, shoulders, back, triceps, biceps and torso rotation muscles on Mondays and Thursdays, and your legs and abdominals on Tuesdays and Fridays. Complete three sets of each exercise, with sets consisting of 12, 10 and eight reps. Increase the weight with each set.
The hips, legs, shoulders and core produce the power when you swing, bat or throw. Incorporate plyometrics into your regimen on Tuesdays and Fridays so they'll fall on the same day as your legs and abdominals strength sessions. To build power in the hips and legs, incorporate tuck jumps, lateral box push-offs, box jumps and split jumps. Develop the upper body with plyo pushups, medicine ball chest pass and the medicine ball overhead smash. For rotation power, the medicine ball twist and throw is effective. Complete two to three sets of eight to 10 reps of each exercise.
Improving your footwork and agility over the off season will allow you to get to more ground balls and run the bases with greater precision. Agility training should be done on Mondays and Thursdays. Quality drills include footwork with the agility ladder, cone hops and shuttle runs. Cone hops consist of hopping over a single cone side-to-side or front-to-back with both feet as fast as you can. For shuttle runs, set three cones in a single-file line, with each one five yards apart. Begin at the center cone and first sprint to the cone on your right, then to the one at your far left, and sprint back to the center cone.
Hitters should get in three to four batting workouts per week. Perform a total of 50 to 200 swings each workout. If you're an infielder, get a partner to hit you 50 to 100 ground balls. With each rep, imagine the base you're throwing to and adjust your footwork accordingly.
Pitchers have to balance workouts with careful arm care between seasons. Alan Jaeger of "Collegiate Baseball Magazine" recommends two to three weeks off without any type of training, then an additional four to six weeks just about building up the body and arm. Once you're ready to throw, your three to four weekly workouts should include five to 20-minute bouts of long toss at 60, 75, 90 and 110 feet. For two to three days per week, do surgical tubing exercises that strengthen the rotator cuff. They can be internal and external shoulder rotations, rows and biceps curls. Complete 12 to 15 reps of each exercise.