Ying and Yang: Training Load and Recovery Time

I hope everyone had a wonderful and restful Easter.  In my last post, I wrote about how baseball rewards the persistent athlete.  It rewards the “grinder.”  This post is a reminder that the “yang” to the “ying” of being a grinder, is rest.  All athletes, in any sport, need rest.  It may be rest to allow the body to physically heal and recover, or it can be a rest to allow an athlete’s mind to slow down and re-energize.  When the an athlete’s training load is not balanced properly with recovery, training may become counterproductive and there can be a decline in performance.    This is normally termed “burnout.”  What are the signs of burnout?  Check out these symptoms adapted from information from the Mayo Clinic.

  • Loss of interest and passion toward training and games
  • Declining attitude during training and games.  Experiencing negative, sarcastic, or cynical attitudes.
  • Decreased motivation to go to practice or to train
  • Increased irritability and impatience toward teammates and coaches, and toward training goals or performance
  • Feelings of an inability to overcome barriers (real or perceived) within your sport
  • Lack of energy or motivation
  • Difficulty in finding satisfaction with your achievements
  • Inability to laugh at yourself, or enjoy your activity

If you are experiencing any of these, it is time for a break.  Be sure to allow yourself adequate time to rest yourself physically, emotionally, and psychologically. 

What can yo do to turn things around?  What can you do if you are feeling burned out?  Here are a few things that can help you get back on track.

Focus on things that are in your control.  Signs of burnout can often result from feelings of being overwhelmed.  Too much practice, too many games, too studying…it can feel as though things are out of control.  Focus on your time management, your effort, and your level of concentration on the task at hand.

Take the time to re-define your goals and expectations.  It is easy to lose sight of these when mentally fatigued, or physically injured.  Remind yourself of what you are trying to accomplish.

Re-evaluate your values.  Feelings of guilt can creep in if your values are not lined up with what you are trying to accomplish.  Evaluate what is important to you and manage your time to make what is important to you a priority in your routine.

Change your routine regularly.  Monotony, doing the same thing the same way all the time, or the opposite, being completely disorganized, with nothing being the same at any time, can create situations in which there is constant effort to create motivation, or planning.  These can wear on you over time.

I love this game!

I was speaking with my best friend last night.  We met 30 years ago.  We found out that we were placed on the same youth baseball team, and that we lived just down the street from one another.  Very common beginning for two young ballplayers.  What made us unique is that I saved his life on the first day of practice.  No really. I literally saved his life.  We lived just off base in the housing area on the perimeter of what was the Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines.  In order for us to get to practice we would walk from our homes to one of the perimeter gates onto the base.  We would walk to the gate, show our military ID cards to gain access onto the base.  Just inside the gate there was a bus stop where we would wait, board the appropriate bus, then head off to practice.  On this day, we took the bus that would make a stop at the Regional Medical Center (the base hospital).  Our practice field was across the street from the hospital.  After we reached our destination Mike and I got off the bus and proceeded to walk around the front of the bus so we could cross the street to our practice.  Mike was in a slight hurry and as he began to walk briskly to cross the street I placed my arm across his chest to stop him.  A car was rushing by and he would have walked right into the path of the oncoming vehicle.  Splat! No practice for Mike.  Lucky I was there.  Mike will tell you himself that it was lucky that I was there.  30 years, careers, family and children later, we still laugh about it.  We made it to practice that day.  We discovered that we had this passion for the great game of baseball, and with the utmost modesty, we found that we were good at it.  Mike was a member of a Little League team from Mary Esther, Florida that found its way to just shy of the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.  I was a southern California kid who played baseball year round and had my share of Little League All-Star, and Pony League World Series experience.  Baseball, and the love for the game was a bond that would allow us to develop our friendship and allow us many life experiences through this great game.  Along the way we were able to reveal the characteristics that would lead each of us into different paths, but also all but insure our success in the paths we chose. 

What is it about baseball that taught us about our strengths and exposed our weaknesses?  Of all major sports I think baseball is the most similar to the realities of life.  It has always been my contention that one of the best qualities of baseball is that it is unfair, and more specifically, often does not immediately reward correct actions, or great effort.  For example, a hitter can go 0-4 but hit the ball squarely all four turns.  Good swings at good pitches, solid contact…no reward.  A pitcher can execute a great pitch, the correct pitch for the situation, and have a batter check swing into an infield hit.  No immediate rewards are common in this game.  However, what baseball does reward always is persistence.  The game rewards continued effort.  The batter that continues to take good swings at good pitches, the pitcher that continually executes the right pitch in the right location, will always be rewarded in the long run.  Baseball rewards those that don’t give up.  It puts those players with the willingness to “grind” and persist through rough games, bad at-bats, bad luck, at the forefront of the game.  What a valuable lesson.  Wouldn’t such a trait, persistence, allow anyone to accomplish anything?  Patience is rewarded in baseball.  Have we gotten so far away from understanding that?  It seems that these days we want everything NOW, we want instant gratification.  And we are disappointed when we don’t get what we want right away.  How do we know we really want, or really want to strive for anything if we are not put in a situation to strive and “grind” for it?  You make a bad pitch on one batter and keep on working at it, make a good pitch to another batter and we are rewarded with a ground ball double play.  Should a pitcher just throw his hands up in exasperation and ask out of a game after making a bad pitch, or after a fielding error?  Or should we let the game test us and allow us to learn, or discover, the level of resolve that is inside us?  Should we be held accountable for our mistakes, bad pitches (bad life decisions) and have an opportunity to work through it? I believe that makes a person stronger.  Or should we look to the dugout, or bullpen, and beg for someone to rescue us from the mess we have created for ourselves?  Would it not be more beneficial for us in the long run to learn how to solve our own dilemmas?  Baseball teaches us how.  I love this game because of that.  I love this game for what it has taught me about myself.  It has taught me more than I could ever give back to it.  It has brought me great friends, wonderful experiences, it has created in me an understanding of the importance of persistence.  It has made me a “Grinder.” I can go through life’s challenges knowing that if I keep on swinging, I can achieve whatever I want.  Heck, I already saved my best friend’s life…

For my athletes that are in a slump, or maybe are not playing as much as they want, or deserve, stay the course.  Continue to work and improve yourself.  The game’s best is ahead of you.  For my athletes that are in the middle of a great streak, or a great season, enjoy it!  You deserve it!  Be “Grinders!”  Get After It!

Golden State STaRS and Stadium Golf Center & Batting Cages

It’s official!  As of April 1, 2009, Golden State Sports Training and Recruiting Services has gone fulltime at Stadium Golf Center & Batting Cages.  I would also like to announce that Stan Hunt, director of First Nation Softball Academy, has joined Golden State STaRS.  Stan has been a long standing fixture in the fastpitch community here in San Diego and has a long list of pitchers that he has developed and has helped move on to fine collegiate careers.  I am excited to team up with Stan.  When it comes to fastpitch pitching development, Coach Hunt is one of the premier instructors in the country!  Big welcome to him!  For fastpitch instruction information please email  info@goldenstatestars.com.

Our Hitting School is underway.  Anyone interested in rounding out our roster can contact me directly at 619-813-3053.  We meet Monday nights from 6-7pm at Stadium Golf Center’s batting cages.

Get After It!