As we head into this year's Christmas Break, I wanted to remind you as the parents but also the pitchers/athletes to keep it simple over break. In these two workouts I illustrate how to focus on all 5 aspects of health, Physical, Mental, Emotional, Spiritual and Nutritional.
If you do not have a plan to stay in shape over break, you feel like you don't know what you are going to do here are a couple of good ones for you from my 24 years of being a pitching coach and former colligate pitcher.
What exactly does "keep it simple" even mean?
Well, it is simple...no pun intended but it truly is. For many families this is a time of year where family gatherings take place as well as trips. With that Don't be so hung up on throwing every day.
In this first plan I'm giving you it is a little bit more powerful to the point, offering a rest and recovery day, short twitch muscle fiber training days and only 2 throwing days. Equaling 220 pitches for a 5-day week.
For both workouts you need is your softball journal, something to write with, water, your glove, a ball, a catcher if you can or a target to throw into like a nine square or bow-net, or you could be like me and throw into one of your old barn doors with a spray painted 4 corners on it. REMEMBER to always stretch and warm up!
Monday: Throw a bullpen of 80 pitches. This is a moment for you to practice your mental madness and ability to "stay in the tunnel" the "ONE PITCH AT A TIME" mentality, not just waiting for it to show up the next time you play in a game. You have to practice this mental toughness.
After you have done "your warmup" (stretching included) throw 15 pitches with focus on the purpose of getting lose, of getting warm. Challenge yourself to throw at a 60% effort. Once you throw 15, throw 5 all out at 100% effort. Stop and allow yourself to reflect on how each of those 5 pitches felt and if you hit your spots. Be honest with yourself.
At this point that is 20 pitches. Now let's focus on the ability to stay sharp with throwing Fastball and changeup, alternating each pitch. After that set of 20 stop and write down how it went. Ask yourself questions like if you were able to throw consistent Fastballs and also able to slow it down while looking like you were throwing a change-up. Remember you can always video yourself and critique yourself this way even more.
Now you are up to 40 reps and I'm sure you are feeling even more of your pitches at this point.
This time I want you to throw 28 pitches. What pitches you might ask? Your top 3 "go to pitches."
In your journal you are going to keep track of your success of hitting your spots and or change of speed. If you didn't hit it, why didn't you hit it and what did you do to make your small adjustment in order to hit it. Create boundaries and healthy self-talk in these moments.
Finish your journal with your notes from those 28 pitches and now you are in the mental status of "get out of the inning," mentality. You are left with 12 pitches allotted to throw out of your 80-pitch workout. This is where you put it all together.
Complete your workout with the rest of your journaling with prompts like, how did you finish, what did you do to correct when you missed your pitch? Were you able to "get out of the inning" in 12 pitches? If so, what was your key to success? If not, where was your mechanical breakdown? How did your body feel during this session? On a scale from 1-5 with 5 being the best your feel, how does your arm feel?
Tuesday: REST. RECOVER. LEAN IN TO YOUR HOLIDAY, bake something festive!
Wednesday: Let's play overhand catch, staying loose. Then let's train those short twitch muscles with sprints. 60 ft Sprints x 10. You can cut this down to 5 if you are capable of doing resistance sprints. Please avoid any over the head extra movements, like burpees, bench press, etc... in order to protect your shoulders especially because a lot of you will be heading into training for the up-and-coming season. The main focus of throwing over break is to STAY HEALTHY!
Thursday or Friday: Apply the same bullpen structure as Monday with 80 pitches but instead of working the Fastball and Changeup work the Rise and the Drop. A good drill to use is the string drill. Two objects, like cones across from each other down at the plate on each side of the box. For a drop ball work the lower string and the rise ball work the higher string. Feel free to add another sprint and or speed training day into your break if you feel the need too.
If you wish to throw another day keep your pitch count down to 60 and only work 1-2-3-4 spots, in and out, up and in or up and out. During this time apply the same journaling methods/prompts.
If you throw 3 days out of a 5-day week you are looking at 80+80+60=220 pitches for the week.
If you throw only two days, you are looking at 140 pitches for a 5-day week.
LISTEN to your body and keep yourself HEALTHY!
The biggest thing to remember is to train correctly for your position as a pitcher. You do not need to train your long twitch muscles.
Train smarter and not harder. If you lift over break keep your weight ratio low as lifting heavy increases your chance of injury. Focus on low-medium weight at a 10-12 rep ratio x3 NO heavy lifting.
If you throw again on Thursday do a stretch session, like yoga on Friday or Saturday.
You can stretch on Thursday and throw on Friday. The goal is to stay in shape, HEALTHY shape not painful shape not muscle trauma shape...remember your season is around the corner and you need to be healthy, physically, mentally and emotionally.
Another GREAT way to keep your arm healthy over break is to throw is to throw 50 pitches a day 5 days a week to protect your time off on the weekends over break, equaling a total of 250 pitches thrown.
Basically, you are throwing 50 pitches each M-T-W-Th-F.
ALWAYS warming up and stretching pre and post throwing workout.
Monday: Throw 10 at 60%, 10at 100%, 10 at 60% 10 at 100%, then throw 10 fastballs to changeups. Be sure to include your journal prompts located in the first workout above.
Tuesday: 20 at 60%, 10 at 100% then finish the last 20 working on rise and drop. Including your journaling throughout.
Wednesday: Throw 10 at 60%, then the 40 remaining work your 1-2-3-4 spots with DILIGENT attention to detail. Re-setting and SEEING each pitch before you throw it (this should be applied to EVERY PITCH) "one pitch at time" mentality.
Thursday: Throw 20 pitches at 60%, then 10 at 100% focusing on GAS, speed. Letting your arm and brain "feel" the difference between 60% and 100%. Then in your remaining 20 pitches you are going to focus on SITUATIONS. Example: the winning run is on second base, you have 1 out. What do you need to do as a pitcher, what is your job?
What is YOUR controllable, not your defenses controllable?
During this time be audible, talk healthy to yourself and remember to manage your emotions by visualizing your pitch before you pitch as well as not living in in the past pitch but living in the presence of your current pitch yet to throw. Pitch with intention, one pitch at a time!
Friday: Your will throw 10 at 60% and then the remaining 40 you will do one of my favorite drills, the ladder drill. This is where you hit your 1-2-3-4 spots in a row but if you miss one you go back down the ladder. Example: you are going for the 3 spot, and you miss it; in this moment you go back to your 1 spot. Back down the ladder. This is a great drill to build stamina, confidence, command, quality, healthy management with the ability to get one's self out of "a hole" so to speak.
Over all throwing in this 5 day block you are throwing 250 pitches.
Focusing on all 5 aspects of health. Mental, Physical, Emotional, Spiritual and Nutritional.
This leads me right into the next point of keeping it simple.
The mental side of the game. This time of year is a great time of year to review current video with your pitching coach. This allows you to ask questions after watching yourself as well as your coach asking you questions. Thanks to technology this can be done over miles, remember that for students that are back home or pitchers that are traveling away from home with their families.
READ or LISTEN to books that add value to the mental and emotional side of your game. Take notes in your journal of the things that stand out to you and of course note those ah-ha moments.
Also remember to SLEEP, this is your pocket of recovery along with properly feeding of your body the fuel it needs to keep it simple over the Christmas Break.
If you have questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. I'm here to help!
Thank you for your support by wanting to get better and learn what it takes to show up each day on and off the mound!
Have a SAFE, BLESSED and Very Merry Christmas
mixed with a Happy New Year!
Big Love and Softball Coach Hugs,
Coach Kally V.