Off-Field Habits for Baseball Players

How Committed Are You? Off Field Habits That Separate the Good from the Great

  • November 1, 2015 /

Busting ass in the weight room is great…but most athletes do that. Great athletes separate themselves by their off the field habits.

A lot of people measure a baseball player’s desire by how much they practice and how much effort they expend in the weight room. A grueling workout is one type of hard work, but there are other just-as-important measures of desire, and these are much more frequently overlooked.

Off-field habits are where the hardest workers separate themselves from the pack, just as much as their work ethic on the field and in the weight room.

Here’s the deal:

Maximizing your potential isn’t as easy as just putting in a huge effort in training. Really ask yourself: how special is it that you can go hard for a few hours a day? Go to any commercial gym and you’ll find people pushing through pain and engaging in all kinds of self-torture; anybody can do that. If you want to learn how badly you need to achieve your goals, pay attention to the hundred small, daily choices off the field that support your progress on the field.

Go to any commercial gym and you’ll find people pushing through pain and engaging in all kinds of self-torture; anybody can do that.”

Sleep Quality: Getting eight hours of sleep per night and going to bed before midnight, every night, isn’t as glamorous as a tough workout, but it’s the type of discipline and sacrifice fewer athletes are willing to embrace. Sleep is anabolic; it’s where you optimize testosterone and growth hormone production, along with all your other faculties. The presence of digital media can keep you awake, so get away from computers, TV’s, and phones at least a half an hour before bed, and try to sleep in total darkness. That means putting up heavy curtains to shield light out of your room, and if you use a digital alarm clock, covering it so that the light doesn’t intrude on your sleep.

sleep deprivation

Make sleep quality a priority for enhanced recovery.

Excerpt from Building the 95 MPH Body

Depriving sleep is an issue, but what about sleep quality? It turns out, deep, uninterrupted, “slow-wave” sleep is when human growth hormone (HGH) is at its highest levels – any interruptions of the sleep process will impair total HGH release and therefore reduce some of its recovery benefits.1 This makes a strong case for keeping your sleeping area dark, quiet and free from distractions.”

Nutrition: Here I’m not referring to what you eat, but the challenges of ensuring every meal is a step forward toward your goals and not a step back. If you have a game at noon, that means you need to eat twice before showing up at the ballpark. Do you know where you’re going to get those meals? If you’re in a position where healthy meals aren’t accessible, you need to plan and prepare your meals ahead of time.

Making time for food preparation requires planning and sacrificing other activities. Maybe your high school lunchroom or college cafeteria doesn’t offer the healthiest choices, so that you would be better off preparing your daily lunches at home. Or if you’re traveling, this means figuring out what you’re going to eat before you get in the car or on the bus instead of leaving your nutrition to chance.

Corrective Exercises/Pre-hab: Baseball is a repetitive, rotational sport and wreaks havoc on the human body. If you play baseball, you have imbalances and you have areas that will be prone to injury down the line. You can’t do enough pre-hab and corrective exercises. If you have five to fifteen minutes, you have time to spend on this area. Try being cognizant of how much daily time you spend on Facebook or social media, and you’ll get an idea of how much time you could be working on scapular stability or shoulder integrity.

Mobility/Flexibility: Similar to the item above, if you have a few minutes to spare, you can prepare for your next workout and prevent injuries down the line. Pay particular attention to this area if you spend a significant portion of your day sitting down. Sitting tightens the hip flexors and atrophies the muscles in the hips. Also, if you’re a baseball player, you’re spending a lot of time in cleats, which inhibits ankle mobility. Try spending a few minutes during the day stretching your hips and ankles and see how much better you feel on the field and in your next workout. This same principle applies to all your training and competition: you’ll always feel and perform better if you’ve made time to stretch and mobilize throughout the day, rather than only spending time on those areas in the gym or before games.

MobilityBestFriends

Mobility work is crucial for preventing injuries. Don’t wait until it’s too late to start.

Stress Management: You have to organize your life so that you are at your best on the field and in training. This means being disciplined in all areas of your life so that problems in one area don’t spill over into your performance on the field. Your academic and social life should support your training and not be a burden. Simple things like staying ahead in school so that you don’t have to pull all-nighters, or associating yourself with people who share your priorities, can make a difference in how much more free energy you have to pour into baseball.  

You have to organize your life so that you are at your best on the field and in training.”

Consistency: Are you training on your birthday? On Christmas Day? If most athletes are taking those days off, doesn’t that mean they’re the optimal times to get ahead? Training consistency is far more important than any single day, week, or month of workouts. Anybody can go to the gym when they feel great; showing up when you don’t want to and when it’s inconvenient is a better measure of your commitment.

There are athletes who are willing to long toss or run sprints whether it’s snowing outside or in one hundred degree heat, and are treating their recovery and preparation between games and workouts like a twenty-four hour job. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that the hours you spend on the field or in training is the only variable that will determine your success.  Those less glamorous areas, the small, off-the-field decisions you make when nobody is watching, are where the hardest working athletes separate themselves from the rest of the pack. And those athletes going to be hard to beat unless you share their commitment.

References:

  1. Prinz PN et al. Plasma growth during sleep in young and aged men, J. Gerontl. 1983;
38(5), 519-524.

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