Over the last month I have been working with two high school groups, and the number of excuses I have heard is frustrating to say the least. For both of these groups, I had asked them to throw over the Christmas break, which was around 3 weeks. I asked them to throw 3 times a week, so that they could maintain their throwing program instead of having to restart with on-ramping. Out of the ~40 athletes, only 6 actually threw enough over the break to maintain their throwing program, and they will be able to get into velocity building sessions earlier, and will allow them at least one full extra velocity building block compared to the athletes that did not throw over the break.
The excuses that I heard ranged from “I was too busy” to “I didn’t have a ride.” These two excuses in particular are very frustrating, because I had one athlete throw while they were on vacation in Mexico, and Calgary has a fairly decent transit system that can take you anywhere in the city for a couple bucks. It is very easy to tell who is committed to getting better, and who doesn’t see the implications of not throwing over the break.
A common saying in the sport world is “Every day you don’t get better, someone else is.” Although it is pretty cliche, it holds very true. The athletes that are showing up to every session, putting the work in, and doing things outside of the training sessions, such as eating properly and getting enough sleep, are the ones that are seeing the most progress with their arm strength, and I know it will show once the summer season rolls around.
With this saying, there are some misconceptions about it as well. Many take this saying to mean that they need to work harder and more often. This is not always true. This saying really means that the athlete should get a program that is customized to them, and follow it exactly, and ask for modifications as issues or concerns come up. When I was down at Driveline for 6 months, I saw a lot of athletes try to push through barriers by working harder and more often. They would be throwing flat grounds on recovery days, and pulling down on “stretch it out” long toss days. Some athletes are able to do this short term, but ultimately the body needs recovery days and the arm needs easier days so that the athlete can be ready for the next velocity day or the next bullpen or the next game. This is where another cliche saying comes in, but holds true again. “Work smart, not hard.” Follow your plan, get bigger, throw harder, and fill up the strike zone, but allow your body to recover in between sessions.