Summer baseball offers an incredible opportunity for player growth when attacked from the right perspective. In this article, we talk about how high school players can learn from the collegiate summer league model and vibe to create growth and improvement in a short period of time.
Collegiate Summer Ball
While collegiate summer teams play to win, the main purpose of the leagues is to provide players an opportunity to grow and improve before heading back to school. A more laid-back atmosphere paired with young and hungry assistants who are ready to help players put in work lends itself to player development while the majority of team activity is games. When players leave their college campuses for the summer, their goal is to come back a better player in the fall than they were when they left. Summer ball can be a great way to improve players’ skills. However, if players only focus on games without dedicating time to improving their baseball skills outside of game play, it’s unlikely they will develop as much as they could. Let’s take a look at what the college players who get the most out of summer ball do and how high school players can steal from this model.
Exit Meetings and Creating a Plan
First, in order to improve, you need to know what skills or weaknesses you should work on. Most college programs have “exit meetings.” Players meet one-on-one with their coaches to discuss their performance during the past season, and look for ways to improve moving forward. If your high school program doesn’t have these meetings, ask your coach if you can set one up. After your exit meeting and some self-reflection, you should have a good idea about what you need to improve on as a player. It may be hard to hear someone talk about your weaknesses, but accepting constructive criticism will give you a plan for improvement moving forward and make you a better player! At the very least, do a post-season self-evaluation. Click here to learn about what that is and why you need to do it!
Once you know the things you need to focus on, the next step is formulating a plan that allows you to improve but also takes into account your summer playing schedule. The plan needs to be effective, but also reasonable. Some summer ball teams play games every day, and the amount of stress this puts on your body needs to be taken into account.
Let’s use an example to help illustrate this point. After meeting with your coach and reflecting on where you need to improve, you decide your focus is going to be hitting for more power. This means improving your strength, efficiency, and bat speed. You know that your summer team will have games every day. You need a plan that will be efficient so you can make gains, not get worn down.
You plan to lift explosive 3 times a week, while focusing on eating healthy and getting the right amount of rest/sleep. Instead of taking a million swings each day, you decide to develop and underload/overload bat speed program you can go through before pre-game BP. You will monitor your progress and will adjust workload accordingly. If you are feeling worn down or have 2 sessions in a row with decreasing success, you’ll dial down the number of swings but keep the proper intent. This will leave you fresh enough for the games where you can continue working on your goal of adding power to your game.
In the games, you can track the pitches you swing at. After each at bat, you can make a quick note of the pitch you swung at, the location, and if you made solid contact with it in a journal. Once you start tracking this information, you will start to see trends in the pitches you hit hard, and can start looking for and swinging only at those pitches early in the count.
You do not have to go about working on your goals alone. Many coaches sole objective for coaching summer ball is to help players improve. It’s likely they will gladly help you work through your plan. Showing your summer coach your plan will actually help them a lot when coaching you. They will now know exactly what you want to work on and can help look for those things during games.
Even with recruiting opportunities returning to pre-COVID levels, you still have a great opportunity to really focus on improving your strength and your skills before you go back to school. However, it takes concentrated work on your part to get the most out of it. Learn from the most successful college players and work with your coach to put together a personal development plan based on your goals and factoring in the other demands on your game. Use our articles on goal setting and holding yourself to a high standard to help and get to work!