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Kicking Off 2018: Optimal Fitness = Better Players

In a recent post, I wrote about functional movement training to focus on training through movement patterns, rather than on specific muscles.

Next up, to kick off 2018 right, I want to address fitness tips. While the latest bat or club or racquet can give the temporary appearance of improved performance, investing in fitness and training of young athletes is what's needed. Let's take a look.

On Teams and Techniques

Focus on Positions

For example, in baseball or softball, Pitchers need to move explosively fast. Catchers need quick reflexes. Basemen rely on speed and sprinting. Shortstops use quick, sudden bursts of energy with sprinting. Outfielders run far and need good hand-eye coordination to watch the ball. These are all vital roles.

Use Equipment Properly

Learn proper equipment form. Injuries happen from carelessness. Ensure footwear, pads, mouth guards, helmets and other equipment fit properly. Don't let shoes get worn down.

On Workouts and Training

Be Flexible and Take Breaks

Rest when needed. If you miss a training day, don't stress. Maintain the training plan. It's overall consistency rather than one particular workout that's the most important.

Don't Overtrain

Strength doesn't come by training harder. It comes from balancing training, rest and diet. Weight lifting in pre-pubescent athletes can be dangerous. Avoid it. There's no good reason to lift as a tween or teen. I get the 'look' factor, that especially teens want to look a certain way, but in terms of their sport, generating additional testosterone from lifting is not recommended.

Match Interests With Abilities

Find a customized training program and set plenty of goals. Results do actually matter, so work with a trainer who actually has proved they can do what they say they can for your athlete. Keep in mind that all athletes can benefit tremendously from strength and speed training.

Mix It Up

Staring at charts and graphs can be pretty boring. Instead, keep training simplified and work on skill sets to mix it up. Alternate the training and intensity to improve stamina. These can help as all positions require fast coordination and quick reaction times.

Work on Consistency

Injuries occur with inconsistent training and exercise. Train regularly and fight the urge to train hard one day and then slack off the next. The body does better with consistency. I'd rather see my athletes work 3 days per week at 100% effort, than 5 days per week with varying levels of effort and never reaching 100% because their bodies are overtrained and burnt out.

On Pre- and Post-Games: Consider Post-game Training

Many professional athletes train right after a game and then take the next day off. I'm not recommending to go do a high intensity HITT workout, but low impact strength training can be beneficial. Recovery is very important for muscle groups, so bring muscles back down slowly, rather than just stopping all activity post-game.

Don't Forget to Cool Down

Some athletes never cool down or ice, but cool-downs can minimize injuries. They give the body time to rest and rebuild or repair muscles.

Focus on Personalized Training Programs

Coaches and trainers can map out detailed programs for strength training and conditioning. Work on areas of weakness, as all positions can improve from proper training.

Set Performance Goals

Successful athletes focus on personalized performance goals while they are training. Talk to trainers and coaches about goals that make sense for you and your sport, and can be established.

On Mental Stamina

Be Confident

Fans can jeer and boo. Your mental game has to be sharp. Don't sweat it. Stress less. After a game, go home and put a movie on. Don't replay the negative.

Envision Game Success

Performance and training is 90% mental. Train the mind to believe success can happen. Like a movie, see the game, see the win, think calm, and visualize goals and success. Encourage athletes to spend 5 minutes before they play visualizing the win, rather than chatting each other up in the dugout or on the sideline.

Keep It Balanced

Some game days are good, some aren't. There are slumps and winning streaks. Learn how to laugh, enjoy life and stay positive. Younger athletes tend to struggle more with this, as learning to cope with these ups and downs is part of growing up too. Be patient, but consistent in pushing them towards seeing the positive.

Minimize Distractions

Don't daydream during practices, trainings, and games. Remain focused and minimize outside distractions. Mental games are about preparedness and follow through.

On Nutrition and Rest

Consult a Nutritionist

Most athletes eat pre- and post-training foods like lean proteins, veggies and brown rice. Talk to a nutritionist about training and game day meals. Personal trainers are not always certified nutritionists, so if you need a recommendation, let us know.

Focus on Healthy Eating

Incorporate healthy eating into a daily regimen and drink lots of water. Many athletes drink their calories, and aren't eating enough of them. Shakes are not all created equal, and especially for youth athletes, who need even more nutrients to support their growing bodies as well as fuel for their sport.

Get Plenty of Rest

Rest gives the body time to repair muscles. Be sure to "disconnect" from TV, games, social media, old game tapes and so on. Too many athletes skip rest days. It's not being lazy. It's being smart. Your body is not a machine, it will break down without being allowed time to rest and heal. Give it what it needs, and it will work better for you.

Stay Hydrated

Sports drinks are important to replenish electrolytes. Gatorade and other sports drinks can maintain sugar levels and prevent crashing during activity, especially in hot climates. However, don't depend solely upon sports drinks for hydration. Drinking water is always the best way to hydrate, and stay hydrated.


All in all fitness and performance are tied together. Your body will perform better with a well-thought out plan. Serious athletes require serious plans, so take a few minutes to plan what you want to achieve in 2018, and let's talk about it. We are here to help!

About SwingFitt

For all your performance enhancing fitness needs, contact SwingFitt. Fitness training for baseball, softball, golf, football, tennis, lacrosse, and more, SwingFitt specializes in functional movement and sport-specific performance enhancing fitness.


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