Top 5 mistakes that Travel Baseball Players are making
1. Poor Nutrition – No real nutrition plan or no planning at all. Traveling all of those miles and playing constantly can have a huge toll on the player and his wellbeing. Eating the right way is essential…and it is one of the most commonly ignored aspects from most players and parents. It is however, the easiest to fix. Have a nutrition plan. Stopping at the local convenience store and letting your player get whatever he wants is not a plan and it is a poor way to go about refueling. I am always amazed when parents tell me that their son barely eats on the road and they wonder why he is run down, sick, and losing weight. Nutrition is so important and really needs to be a top priority with parents and players. I have helped and watched players turn their game around completely for the better just by fixing their nutrition.
2. No Recovery Plan – game after game…practice after practice…long car rides…long fights, etc… The body can only take so much. Without a recovery plan,....
3. Not Enough “Proper” Rest- Recovery and rest is not always the same thing. In fact, when I talk about rest I mean making sure there is solid down time between games and practices. This means making sure the player is getting enough sleep at night and also maybe some nap time too! Lack of rest, day after day will add up fast. Staying up late each night and messing around with the team is fun and is part of the experience, but getting enough sleep and rest will have to come in sometime. Sometimes, rest is just getting away from baseball completely for a while. Whether that is a day, or a couple of days, or 3-4 hours. No throwing, no running, just rest. Let the body rest. The more you play, the more you travel, the more rest will be needed.
4. Little or no Balance in their lives – It is essential for these kids to have some balance in their lives. I have witnessed way too many kids burnout after a summer of travel ball, to the point where they quit or wanted to quit the game. Having some balance is key. It is important that these kids get to do things that have nothing to do with baseball sometimes…especially in the summer months. These kids see (via social media) exactly what all of their friends are doing all summer (i.e. going to the beach, parks, vacations, etc…) while they are in another hotel room getting ready to play another game. Having some activities planned throughout the season that are non-baseball related can help a lot. Also, giving the kids some time off is very important too. Balance is ultra important! If there is down time between games, or tournaments, plan a fun day that has nothing to do with baseball. Help the kids get back to the sport refreshed and wanting to play. Doing other things can really help with this. Summer is a time for baseball and a time for fun. Make sure the player is having both…in baseball and away from baseball.
5. Strength and Mobility Maintenance /Improvement – I just talked about balance and time off and now I am going to tell you that your kid needs to do strength and mobility training on top of playing baseball too!! Seriously?? Yep…dead serious. Here is the deal…If your kid is going to play a long summer schedule without much of a break, his body will break down. This means he will get weaker, less flexible, less mobile, and his performance will get worse and worse. If playing baseball at a high level is really important, he needs to incorporate some strength and mobility training into his summer routine. The good news is that he can do this before, or after a game or practice in about 20 min. Maintaining strength and mobility can be done a little at a time for those guys who don’t have much time. For the guys that do have some more down time, training away from the field can be a good distraction from playing as well. Again, if it is really important to be the best, then the price of being physically prepared has to be paid at some point! Besides, being strong and having great mobility is one of the best ways to prevent baseball injuries!! Being strong and mobile are requirements for success in baseball…that is the truth. Younger guys can get away with just talent for a little while. However, when kids get older, the stronger, faster, more powerful guys will always be better and be better off. Strength and mobility are foundations of staying healthy and developing speed and power. (As well as staying injury free!)
In my 20 plus years of training baseball players, I have witnessed just about everything. I’ve seen freak injuries, and I have also watched top D1 players/MLB prospects totally quit the game and never play again. I have been part of incredible success stories too.
Many of the bad things that can happen are easily prevented just by following the above advice. Many of the great things that happen also are helped by following the above advice.
There are so many things that players (and parents) can do to prevent injuries and improve performance…and they are simple things. “Cover the bases” and make sure you are avoiding the obvious mistakes and watch things improve quickly.