Strength and conditioning is tough enough in the offseason, but once you have to focus on practices, bullpens, batting cage time, skill development, and playing games, training for strength and speed becomes nearly impossible! I’m a huge supporter of youth athletes picking up multiple sports in their early years of high school – by all means, join the soccer team, lacrosse team, football team, and baseball team (of course). However, this diversity comes at a price: You can get good at all the sports and increase your overall fitness as a result, but you’ll rarely be great at any of them. Why? There’s no offseason to take your focus off performance and place it on training to increase general strength and conditioning.
As you progress through high school, it’s worth analyzing what sports you really like and the ones you have some talent in. If you’ve got a shot to play college or pro baseball, you should seriously consider dropping the other sports so you can have a clearly defined workout program in the off-season to focus on your SPARQ Baseball metrics, overall bat speed, fastball velocity, fat loss, or just getting stronger and fitter.
When you have a clearly defined off-season and in-season timeline, I recommend focusing the bulk of your off-season work with high volume and high intensity weight training that’s hard to recover from. This type of training is inappropriate for in-season training but yields great benefits if you can set aside enough time to recover from the effects of the exercises. As you approach the competitive season, you should deload and switch your focus to skill work like taking grounders/fly balls, throwing long toss and bullpens, changing your pitching mechanics so you can throw harder and with less effort, examining your swing for flaws, and putting that increased strength and fitness to good use!
During the season, strength training will become very hard. If you’re in high school, you have 20 games with the school, plus playoffs, plus five practices a week, plus weekend practices or workouts with your select/travel team. Yikes! It becomes impossible to squat or deadlift heavy and recover from the effects of the training in enough time for the next game. Finding one day per week that you can lift heavy to maintain strength is your best bet, if possible. Focusing on high intensity but low volume workouts (heavy triples in the squat and deadlift, for example) will help you maintain the strength levels you built up in the off-season without seriously impacting your recovery system in a negative manner.
Improving your sprint times and medball throws are goals you can focus on during the season, as these activities dovetail nicely with conditioning that’s done in-season with your team already and won’t tax you too much. Kettlebell swings are a great way to develop rapid hip extension power, provides a nice conditioning stimulus, and are easy to find time for!