Strength training is still a greatly underutilized aspect of preparation in many programs and even more neglected during the actual playing season (especially among spring sports baseball, softball, lacrosse, soccer).
Strength is an attribute that can diminish very quickly. In as little as three weeks your players may have a noticeable decrease in strength. That means every week that goes by, your team is getting weaker. Come playoff time your team will be physically at their weakest when you need them at their strongest.
The goals of any in-season program are the same of any off-season program: Improve strength and power. In addition, making the muscles, ligaments, and tendons of the body stronger will lessen the occurrence and/or severity of an injury (such as a pulled hamstring or rolled ankle), and keep your players on the field and court. You will also improve their performance on the field and court. The stronger your player is, the more force they can produce. The more force they can produce, the higher they can jump, the faster they can run, the quicker they can cut.
1. Train Frequently
Realistically, you should train two days per week with higher intensities but lower volumes.
You should use a limited number exercises (4-6 exercises) and sets during each workout (1-2 sets per exercise), while minimizing rest between sets.
Never skip an in-season workout. A 15-minute, one-set workout is better in the long run than a missed day of training.
2. Train with Intensity
Intensity is the key to any training program, not volume, and this applies even more during the season.
Intensity is the most important factor in determining the results for your players. Below a certain level of intensity, strength training will have very minimal benefit.
It is recommended that each set is taken to the point of muscular failure (at which no additional reps can be completed). An appropriate repetition range (8-15 reps for most high school players).
3. Total-Body Workouts
Your in-season program should address the major muscle groups (legs, hips, core, and upper torso) as well as paying special attention to the most injury-prone areas (ankles, knees, groin, lower back, and shoulders).
See number one and two above. High intensity, low volume. Limited exercises, 1-2 sets per exercise.
4. Minimize Risk
You should only use the safest exercises available, and do your best to make sure that all workouts are properly supervised.
Players should always perfect exercise technique and form prior to utilizing additional resistance or weight.
Players should perform every movement in a slow, controlled tempo with special emphasis focused on the lower portion of each exercise.
5. No Excuses
Athletes hate in-season lifting. Painful, but necessary.
Don’t give your players “choices” of lifts.
Don’t let your players sudden injuries fool you. If athletes are too injured to lift, they are too injured to play. You’ll be amazed how fast kids get healthy.
Sample In-Season Strength Training
- A Pushups (chest, triceps)
- A Pullups (back, biceps, forearms)
- B Dumbbell Shoulder Press (shoulders)
- B Dumbbell Bent-Over Row (back)
- C One Legged Dumbbell Squat (hips, hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes and calves)
- C Lateral Lunge (glutes, quadriceps, adductors, abductors)
- D Plank Position T-Rotations (core)
- D Medball Woodchopper (core)