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Starting an Athlete’s Offseason Training

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The start of offseason training is important to recover from the season and set the foundation of progress to enhance performance.

You want to evaluate an athlete’s workload from the season, their response to that workload, and then build their capacity for even more next season.

Here are the keys to the beginning of an offseason that we focus on with athletes at Champion.

To view more episodes, subscribe, and ask your questions, go to mikereinold.com/askmikereinold.

#AskMikeReinold Episode 268: Starting an Athlete’s Offseason Training

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Show Notes


Transcript

Morgan:
Today, actually Kim is going to be doing the first question. I’m just in charge of the computer.

Mike Reinold:
Oh, Okay. I mean, you propped up and got super excited. You were elbowing out the other students though. I thought that was cool, but… All right. What do we got, Kim?

Kim:
Sean from Florida asks, “With the start of the baseball off season approaching, I was curious what things you would initially focus on within [inaudible 00:02:43] ending a long season and starting their off season training.”

Mike Reinold:
Awesome. I thought that was a really good question too, Sean. I appreciate you submitting that one there. Obviously, you use the word baseball, right? Because baseball off season’s coming, but I just thought it was a great question just to talk about what we do at the start of an athlete’s off season, right? Because you could argue what we’re about to do in this first beginning phase is going to set the tone and really set the foundation for the rest of the off season and what we could do.

Mike Reinold:
So, I think we’re in the same boat as you, Sean. We started to have some of our athletes start rolling in, and we started having these conversations. Diwesh and I was just having this conversation yesterday, but one of our athletes and how we’re going to phase out his off season. So Diwe, you want to start this one off, I guess, and see where the conversation takes us? But like when an athlete’s coming into you at the start of their off season, and we know they just had a long season, and we’re about to start this period where we can focus on them. What are your initial goals for that beginning phase? I think that’s a really cool question.

Diwesh Poudyal:
Yeah, for sure. And before I dive into kind of what we would do, the few things that I would consider for sure is a little bit of what they did during the summer, what their volume was like. Obviously we get a lot of kids that play summer ball, but some kids don’t, right? So that’s going to change the way that we approach things just slightly. We might not worry as much about, let’s say normalizing the athlete, bringing movement variability as like a primary objective early on if they haven’t played summer ball, right? If they’ve been rotating throwing and hitting all summer, they did that in the spring, obviously we got to probably take a little bit of a break from being super, super transverse playing at frontal plane. So we typically tend to do is early on, we focus a little bit more on gaining movement quality, movement competency, move a little bit more in the sagittal plane, just to kind of get them away from doing that same repetitive rotation over and over again.

Diwesh Poudyal:
And then we definitely prioritize strength as our foundation early on. Now the cool thing with what we’re currently doing is we’ve started to apply a little bit of sports science testing stuff and start building some force velocity profiles for our athletes. And that does change things a little bit. So instead of kind of going with the conventional wisdom of saying, “All right, we’re going to start back with a strength phase, maybe even like a [inaudible 00:05:04] phase, strength phase, and then kind of developing into a little bit more of the power model. We might have some more advanced athletes that we know their profile super well. So if they’re already super, super strong, right, and that’s not the big, low-hanging food form, we might honestly glaze over that a little bit more. We might just kind of focus on building decent capacity for strength and then just jump right into speed and power stuff because we know that that’s what they’re going to get better doing. So that’s where things get a little bit different than what’s conventionally done from like a [inaudible 00:05:35] strength, power stand [crosstalk 00:05:37]-

Mike Reinold:
What you’re saying, though, is you’re still going to start that initial phase with the primary focus probably on a strength based program, but depending on maybe where they are in that forced development profile, maybe that phase is just a little quicker for somebody that has great amount of strength or didn’t lose strength in season, right? And is ready to progress faster. Is that what you’re saying?

Lenny Macrina:
Exactly. Yep, exactly.

Mike Reinold:
Nice. That’s great. And I really like what you said at the beginning too, about applying… What did they do this summer? Right? And this is a lens, by the way, that you can use for any sport, right? We’re talking baseball because that was what Sean said, but theoretically you can take this with any athlete, is… What Diwe said was, think about what they’ve been doing in their competitive sport for months on end right now. And think like we may have to take a break from some of those movement patterns and work outside those planes a little bit, right? We have to get away from rotation, for example, if you’re a baseball player. We may want to just get out of that for just a teeny bit in this beginning section, so I like that. What else? Anybody else have thoughts? How about, for us like Len, like… Obviously we have a bit of the performance therapy like slant to this, but from your lens there as like the performance therapist, when somebody’s coming back after a long season, what are you looking at?

Lenny Macrina:
Yeah, Diwe did a great job and we’re actually… We had an athlete come back this week or last week. So we’re constantly talking to me, you and him about this guy and others that will come in, but we’re… In my hands, I’m looking at… Hopefully I’ve seen him before and have some baseline on him. And that is often the case, fortunately for us. But sometimes we don’t. And so I want to see range of motion numbers. I want to see total range of motion. So ER, IR ratios and total range of motion and just see where we’re at. As we know, throwing, you lose internal rotation over season. So was he getting… Was he taking care of his shoulder getting arm care during the season to maintain his motion and maybe not, which is fine. Or towards the end, he just kind of faded.

Lenny Macrina:
And so we got to figure that out and then strength profile. So we do a lot of handheld dynamometry with our pitches, too. So with our baseball players, so ER, IR ratios and strength, and then just cuff and deltoids. See how strong they are bilaterally. And again, try to compare to a baseline of where they were at some point, and at least create a baseline, if not, and then go from there. And then communicate with the strength coach how they can incorporate some of their arm care stuff into their program, or it’s up to us as PTs to do some of the soft tissue stuff and restore some of their motion and get some of that local strength back in their cuff that we would do and some of the dynamic stability.

Mike Reinold:
So I like that. So combining Lenny and Diwesh right now, I like this. Diwesh is curious on what their workload was for the summer. So that way we can build a program based on that, Lenny wants to look at how their body tolerated that workload, right? So we always say with our athletes, like you play sports especially day in and day out, you usually end up getting tight and you get tired, right? So we look at your mobility. We look at your strength. We look at how that applies, right? So again, Lenny was super focused on baseball, but again, if you have a football athlete, a hockey athlete, think about the activities that they did, right, and where would they be tight? Where would they be weak, or tired, whatever.

Mike Reinold:
And that has to be the beginning for you, right? We can’t jump right to power training if somebody has a mobility restriction or they have a poor movement screen, or maybe they have isolated weakness in areas specific to their sport. So I think that’s a good basis. So what else? Lisa, what are your rowers look like when they first come see you? Because I think that’s like end of a long season. What do they look like and how does that change what you do at the beginning?

Lisa Low:
Tight and tired and sore.

Mike Reinold:
Right. But I think that’s a good point though, is that everybody’s essentially tight and tired. It’s just what’s tight and what’s tired for your sport, right?

Lisa Low:
Yeah. And as we’ve been answering this question, I just get really excited for off season. I get really excited for winter training because it’s like… I feel like on the water season, I’m always just helping people stay on the water, but in the off season, you can actually like more so fix a problem. And so I always just get super stoked for actually having that opportunity. And this year, all the rowers that are coming in here, I’m going to actually do some more solid-like strength and range of motion testing with them so that they can have those more concrete goals in the weight room or with me of what are we trying to change through the off season. Which to me is almost more exciting than competition season because it’s like, how do you actually get better? So…

Mike Reinold:
I love that. I love… And that, perfect build off what Lenny said. I love when episodes come together like this for podcast too. So Lenny’s looking at how’d you tolerate those workloads for the season. Now Lisa is saying, okay, well where are you now? I want to create objectives over the course of your off season that we can get you to peak performance, right?

Mike Reinold:
So, and we talk about this a lot with our champion performance kind of like thought process that we use. But if this is baseline, right, oftentimes… I don’t know in the video what’s left and right, if it’s reversed. But oftentimes, like you get below baseline. So we try a lot to get you back to baseline. But then in the off season, we need to get you past baseline. So we have to not just restore your performance, but then we have to optimize it and then enhance it, right? And that’s how those steps build off each other right there. So I love that approach. So Dan… Dan’s going to take this episode off because his athletes don’t have off seasons, right? If you’re not training, you’re losing, right? So…

Dan Pope:
I was going to say I won’t say a ton… Take up a ton of time here, but that’s huge. I’m guilty of this. And a lot of folks I work with are guilty of this. They don’t really have seasons, but I think for especially like a collegiate athlete, that is really, really, really into the sport. We see a ton of youth athletics that we see a lot of overuse injuries. Off season is an important time to kind of calm down a little bit, right? If you do have an injury, it’s a time to relax and build up slowly the course of time. For me, I was just like Lisa. Super excited about the off season, probably too much so.

Dan Pope:
So I’d come off with like a high volume, high intensity, mentally exhausting season. I’m like, “All right. Let’s hit this a hundred percent.” The next day, we’re just going to lift heavy now, which I don’t know if that’s the right mentality either. And obviously as an athlete, it’s good to want to push, but you do have to settle back a little bit and take some time and get the body to heal and relax. And if you have an injury, this is a major opportunity to get that to go down, and feel better and build back.

Mike Reinold:
I love that too. And that’s one thing we talk about at the beginning too, is like, hey, all right, what’d you deal with this season? What injuries? Did you lose any time? What’s aching you now. What was an issue in the season that maybe it’s not symptomatic right now, but maybe there’s some lingering suboptimal findings, maybe, on your exam that we can dig in there? I always tell people that too. This might be the most important month of the off season, even though we’re doing the least amount of work because if you don’t get the things that are suboptimal addressed now, then you’re never going to maximize the ability to reach that peak performance later in the off season. So it’s like super important, right? So Kevin, what do you got?

Kevin Coughlin:
Yeah. So I’m just going to say that the season seems to be a grind where we’re doing very specific things and the off season’s a good time to kind of look at all the specific things we’ve been doing and try to turn the person back into an athlete and work on whatever skills or drills that we weren’t able to work on during the season. So, kind of keep their whole athlete profile in mind, like Diwesh was saying, and try to get them back to that full athlete that we want them to be going into their next season.

Mike Reinold:
I love that. I love that. And using the specific example, the player that we just mentioned that just came back, I think that was a good example. He was dealing with something and his training took a hit, right? So he actually started like plateauing and then almost like declining towards the end of the season. And we got away from some of those things. It’s almost like we were in just damage control mode towards the end of his season. And he wasn’t athletic enough, right? And then you start to deteriorate over time, so… Awesome. So, all right. Great episode. We could talk for four hours on this topic, which is great, but I think good summary of stuff is have your athletes come in, find out how their season went, right?

Mike Reinold:
Did they have any major injuries? How their body hold up? And then we want to establish this assessment process of where they are. What were their workloads? How did they handle them? What’s suboptimal? Right? What do we need to clean up in this first phase so that way we can really build upon that in the future? I think this is the most important part of the off season for me, is trying to get their body reset so that way, we have a foundation to build on in the future. So, awesome episode. Thanks so much, Sean, for that question. If you have a question like that, head to mikereinold.com. Click on that podcast link and be sure to subscribe iTunes… Is it not iTunes anymore? I don’t even… Apple? Spotify? Whatever-

Lenny Macrina:
Apple music or Apple podcast.

Mike Reinold:
Spotify… Spotify’s growing by the way. And this isn’t an ad for Spotify. Spotify’s growing. You look at the numbers going up, but anyway, off topic. Sorry, but anyway, appreciate it. See you on the next episode.

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