You have just spent the last 6 months at PFP training hard and pushing your body to new limits. You have become more mobile, stronger, more powerful and faster in the off-season so you can perform at a higher level in the upcoming season. Yet, so many athletes discontinue strength training once the season starts. This article aims to educate you on why you should commit to an in-season training program.
Lack of strength training during your season can have detrimental effects on your level of performance, especially toward the end of the season when it may matter most. Discontinuing a training regimen once the season starts will begin the process of “detraining”. Detraining is defined as the partial or complete loss of training-induced adaptations in response to cessation of training or a substantial decrease in training load. This simply means that you begin to lose cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength shortly after you discontinue your training regimen. In contrast, by maintaining strength with regular training sessions throughout the course of the season, the athlete should be able to withstand the high demands of her sport, which ultimately will improve performance and decrease risk for injury.
I’ve heard many reasons as to why athletes discontinue training once the season starts, the most common of which is lack of time. Here’s the deal, there is ALWAYS time. I’ve worked with adolescents long enough to know that outside of all the time spent in school, doing homework, practicing and playing in games there is STILL time for texting, facetime, social media, TV, video games, etc. That means there is plenty of time for in-season training. It just depends on where your priorities lie. If you want to be successful in your sport, you can and should find time to make in-season training a priority.
The second most common reason for avoidance of in-season training is fear of fatigue or soreness impacting performance in an upcoming practice or game. This is a valid concern and if not done correctly, in-season training can result in these potentially detrimental outcomes. It is incredibly important to maintain maximal strength throughout the season for optimal performance, while limiting muscle fatigue and soreness. This can be accomplished by continuing to strength train with a few simple rules: train at a decreased frequency (2-3 days/wk); utilize decreased volume or reps; avoid excessive eccentric loading; and avoid introducing new exercises that your body has not yet adapted to.
Matrix Sports Medicine & Physical Therapy has created an in-season training program aimed to help softball players avoid the detraining process while enhancing performance throughout the season. Don’t let the gains you made in the off-season disappear by avoiding in-season training. Otherwise, there was no point of putting in all that work just to go back to where you started.
Tory Hueston, ATC, MSPT Owner, Matrix Sports Medicine & Physical Therapy