Summer Ball 101

Summer Ball 101

Should I play summer ball or should I train instead is a common dilemma that baseball players from high school up seem to be asking a lot more frequently these days. If you look back about 8-10 years, Driveline, Tread, or Top Velocity weren’t around (and if they were, they were in their very early stages), leaving ball players with no other choice than to play all Summer long to keep their skills polished and ready for the next season. Now days, it is perfectly normal for a player to decide completely against summer baseball and opt to train and perfect a few of their skills, or maybe even a few weak spots they have in their game. But the question still remains – should you keep getting those reps and playing in live games? Or should you seek a program, spend your summer at a training facility, or just take a break from the game all together and focus on the gym or other training regimens? Well, to come to the right conclusion, let’s ask ourselves a couple questions:


1.      Are you healthy?

Yes, this one seems self-explanatory, but at the same time, it’s not for some athletes. If the answer is YES, then you should consider playing, depending on where you are in your career and if you feel the need to keep seeing live reps. If the answer is NO, then playing and putting continued stress on your body may not be the right move. If you are feeling the toll of a full season, perhaps adding more games and live reps would be counterintuitive to what you’re trying to accomplish. My advice – consider some rehab, physical therapy or if there’s no evident injury and you’re dealing with tight muscles and ligaments or fatigue, maybe hopping on a strength program will help you build more muscle and power, while also prepping your body for the next season. Did we mention that it could also help injury prevention as well? Putting your body and health first should always be a priority over training or playing. If you’re dealing with an injury, but don’t think you can afford the time off – yes, you can. Playing or training hurt can only lead to bigger and worse things. Get healthy and you will be surprised how many things will change with your play.


2.      How did your Spring season go?

This is an important question to ask – especially if you’re a younger guy on your roster. Maybe you’re a freshman in college and you took a redshirt or maybe only got a few innings of work all year. Yes, seeing all those guys head over to these big box training facilities and doing 95 MPH + pulldowns with some velo slaps seems like a great time, but it’s not what you need (unfortunately). Reps are KEY! What makes a good and polished ball player isn’t always the skill level, rather it’s the experience of the player. You simply cannot beat getting live Abs or live situational play when trying to grow with the game. So, if you didn’t play as much as you’d like this past Spring, you’re probably due for a good summer season.


3.      How much did you play this Spring?

Let’s say you were the #1 guy out of the pen, you ate up some 50+ inning this past year, or you played in every game except a few here and there, but you still feel like you are missing a few MPH on your fastball or you’re just not comfortable with getting your barrel on an outside pitch – TAKE THE SUMMER OFF. If you’re this person, odds are you played a lot of baseball this past Spring. Playing more is not going to develop more skill or attributes to what you already have. You’ve seen what you can do in game situations – good or bad. You have seen the things you need to work on to get you over the hump and get you into that scout’s notebook. Now, it’s time to take those needs and earn them in the gym, in the bullpen, or in the cage. Develop your raw skills, refine the things you excel at and become a better ball player that way. No need to tax your system even more after a strenuous season.


The point is, summer ball can be a good way to develop more skills, polish some places you may need work, or even get you those live situations you may have missed during the regular season. BUT, on the flip side, it can also be the wrong thing to do if you’re battling an injury or you had an extremely busy spring. My last point is more of a mental tip than anything: if you don’t play summer ball that doesn’t mean you’re slacking, and it doesn’t mean you aren’t getting better. There are a lot of mold heads out there who think the only productive summer is the one where you’re playing, but that is a very outdated way of thinking. You know your body. If you’re a good ballplayer, you’re realistic with your skill level and where you belong. If you’re a guy who may be fighting for a spot and just have a few tools to fix and you’re the guy, you are NOT falling behind because you aren’t seeing live situations. Listen to your body, be realistic with your skills and where you can improve, and if you decide to play over the summer, remember one thing – have fun. Some of the greatest memories I have is playing with dudes from all over the country. It’s Summer ball. Everyone is out there for one sole purpose: to get BETTER. Remember that and have a great summer wherever you spend it!