It’s the end of November and most teams/players have finished up their Fall seasons by now, at least here in the northeast. So now parents are asking, "how long should my child take off?”
My answer is the same for all my students: take 1-2 weeks completely off from any kind of training. That means no baseball activities, no weightlifting, no running (for training purposes), no drills etc. There are various reasons which affect players both mentally and emotionally.
If a player is pushing through a lack of focus or desire it can lead to poor use of the body, throwing without intent and causing injury. Players need some time off to regroup and refocus! However, taking too much time off for the more serious player can lead to a steep incline into the season. A player can be over rested just as much as he can be over worked!
After that 1-2 week period, the player should begin a strength training program that "puts back into the body that which has been taken out" over the course of the long season.
By building the body up in that manner, the player is giving himself plenty of reserves for the upcoming season.
I see it happen a lot where the player who took too much time off comes back, feels well-rested, is excited to get going, but realizes he now only has a month to get ready. What happens? He ramps it up too much the first day, his body does not have the functional strength to absorb the force of the activity he's performing & eventually he ends up breaking down & "going on the shelf" for a period or sometimes the rest of the season.
Playing other sports is acceptable, but not optimal for preparing for baseball.
The serious baseball player needs to start training his body now for next season & begin some biomechanical drills as well. No throwing (low intensity) is necessary until December. This way the player can hit the ground running in January.
Hitting & fielding are a little different from the throwing aspect. After the player’s 2 week break, he can get right back at with hitting & fielding (lightly at first, then build up). Obviously, if the player is training frequently & intensely, he may want to cut back on volume, intensity & frequency of fielding & hitting, but he also wants to stay sharp.
To sum it up, everybody needs a little time off to recharge, but after that there is a time period where the player needs to, as Tom House would say, "Deposit enough in the bank, to cover what you will be withdrawing during the season." That time to "fill up your body's bank account" is now!