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Training Schedules for Summer Baseball

Written on May 31, 2010 at 3:48 am, by Eric Cressey

Q: I’ve been going through some research, and your articles about training between starts, and I was wondering what kind of approach you take with college pitchers who are playing summer ball. Do you treat them as in-season and try to keep them fresh for their starts, or are you more aggressive with them since it’s not their primary season?

A: My answer is – as always – it depends.

If you have a younger player who is weak, scrawny, and altogether physically unprepared, he is going to train hard.  The long-term benefits of that training far outweigh any short term decrements in performance (which, as I’ll note in a second, can easily be attenuated markedly).

If we are talking about a more advanced player for whom summer ball performance may be extremely important (e.g., an unsigned draft pick in the Cape Cod League during the summer after his junior year who is trying to get his signing bonus up), you have to treat things quite a bit differently.  And, within this category, we manage starters and relievers differently.

For starters, it’s pretty easy, as they generally have predictable seven-day rotations.  I outlined my thoughts with the 7-day rotation component of A New Model for Training Between Starts: Part 2.  Here it is:

Day 0: pitch
Day 1: challenging lower body lift, light cuff work
Day 2: movement training only, focused on 10-15yd starts, agility work, and some top speed work (50-60 yds); upper body lift
Day 3: low-Intensity resistance training (<30% of 1RM) circuits, extended dynamic flexibility circuits
Day 4: full-body lift
Day 5: movement training only, focused on 10-15yd starts, agility work, and some top speed work (50-60 yds)
Day 6: low-intensity dynamic flexibility circuits only (or off altogether)
Day 7: pitch again


I treat relief pitchers as if they are position players – but if we know that there is a good chance that they’ll throw in the next 24-36 hours, we’ll markedly drop the volume and intensity and just focus on them leaving the gym feeling “refreshed.”  If they have a longer outing (more than an inning), we’ll get some really good weight-room work in the next day, as we know they won’t have to pitch that night.  If it’s a shorter outing and they may be expected to throw two days in a row, we’ll go easier (potentially even pushing things back a day).

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