Joe Breen, Director of Baseball Operations, RBI Baseball Academy
Parts 1 & 2 of this series discussed the importance of speed and strength for a high school baseball player. If you have not read either of those pieces, I suggest doing so prior to getting into Part 3. Check them out here High School Spring Training & What I Took Out of It – Part 1 and High School Spring Training & What I Took Out of It – Part 2.
CONDITIONING & NUTRITION
Part of our pitch to these players was that this program would give them an opportunity to “live the life of a college baseball player.” Many of these players have aspirations of playing in college without ever knowing the commitment that comes along with it. A collegiate baseball season is far more physically and mentally demanding than a high school schedule. There are times where you may end up playing 20 games in 25 days which is very physically demanding and that doesn’t even include going to class, homework assignments, long-term projects, internships, group meetings, travel, etc. We tried to keep the players as busy as possible while on our trip.
By day 3, it was very evident that the players were tired. There wasn’t nearly as much fire as there was when we first got there. Players footwork in the field was definitely a bit slower, more mental mistakes were made, and the aggressiveness and speed on the basepaths was limited.
I believe there were a few factors that contributed to this drop-off. The first factor is something that is a bit out of the players’ control but the change in climate (avg of + 30 degrees) from home in Massachusetts to Orlando, FL definitely did its part in running down the energy levels of our players.
Secondly, the overall average level of conditioning for our player’s was below average. I know some of our players take part in strength & conditioning programs a couple times per week and that is great but I think they need to realize that there is a lot more conditioning needed to be able to perform at a high level on day 4 after 1 full day of on-field practice and 2 days of games. The conditioning needed to perform in baseball is that of multiple short bursts of energy. Going for a 2-mile run is not going to increase your baseball conditioning like 10-20 short sprints followed by 10-30 seconds rest would.
Lastly, the nutrition displayed was just absolutely atrocious. Each time I entered a players room I’d see soda, gatorade, chips, pop-tarts, white bread, and more. Most of the food choices by our players did not cater to a high-level athlete looking to perform at a high level. I credit this to the players just simply not having the education or knowledge. I mean most kids know that Doritos and Coca Cola are not good for you but why shouldn’t they be drinking Gatorade or making sandwiches with white bread? I could go all day on this subject but let me just tell you that high-sugar beverages and starchy white carbohydrates shouldn’t be consumed when just sitting around a hotel room. These can be of great nutritional value following a strenuous workout to increase a depleted blood glucose level from the stress your muscles go through during the workout itself.
With all of that said, I highly recommend players who are serious about the game and their health in general to make a commitment to paying more attention to the food and drinks that enter their body. A solid nutritional plan plays a major role in the quest to attain a consistent high level of performance. For anyone interested in getting some help with this, I highly suggest reaching out to the staff at Elite Health & Fitness in Stoughton or Julie Nicoletti over at Kinetic Fuel.