Spring Training: Start Preparing Today for Your Summer Sports League

via Fitness Together

teamsports_articleAs major league baseball players are wrapping up their Spring Training programs in Arizona and Florida this month, it’s time for you to dust off your equipment and get your bats cracking to prepare for your favorite summer team sport.

To hit a grand slam this season, load the bases with the following team sports preparation tips.

Hit a Line-Drive Single by Combining Fitness with Fun

Whether you’re a seasoned recreational league ball player or this is your first season playing on an adult team, team sports can be a fun way to burn calories and stay active over the summer. If you’re tired of doing cardio on the treadmill or elliptical, joining a team sport like soccer, basketball or flag football can be a new motivating way to exercise as teammates hold you accountable and push you to succeed.

“The great thing about team sports is that activity and exercise become a set thing in your life,” explains Stacy Adams, personal trainer and studio owner at Fitness Together Central Georgetown. “Ever since I was 4, I’ve played team sports. It was a part of my life like brushing my teeth. When you have it as part of your structure and daily life, you expect it. It helps you to stay motivated and maintain an exercise program that can become a part of your life.”

To prepare for a team sport, it’s important to invest in proper gear so you have a solid foundation to start from as well as consider attending a sports camp or hiring a team coach to brush up on your skills. It also is important to be clear about whether you’re playing in a sport to have fun or compete. Either way, a positive attitude is a must in order for the season to be a fun and memorable experience.

Round Second with Conditioning and Core Work

Before you throw your team jersey on and head out for the first game of the season, the first piece of business that needs to be taken care of is assessing your fitness level and creating a pre-season conditioning plan that supports the movements and activities you’ll be doing in your sport, as well as prepare you for an injury-free season.

“A lot of people go into the softball or flag football season totally out of shape,” explains Adams. “They have no exercise plan or structure. All of a sudden they’re doing an athletic activity and they eventually get hurt. Starting a regular workout routine that you’re accountable to and that’s on a schedule is important to succeeding in team sports.”

A true offseason conditioning program lasts from 12 to 16 weeks.  But you can often correct bad form and strengthen potential injury areas in just six to eight weeks. In the beginning of your spring training program, a trainer or physical therapist should help you identify certain conditioning exercises to get you in shape and stretches to help you avoid possible injuries. You should expect to hit it hard with cardio and strength training in the beginning of the offseason, then start focusing on movement and technical skill work as opening day draws nearer.

“The conditioning component is important to maintain your performance level and avoid injuries throughout the season,” explains Matt Gagliano, personal trainer and studio owner at Fitness Together East Bay. “When I played baseball, our season lasted from March to August. Once we got to August, my arm was feeling like it was about to fall off. This was probably because I didn’t have proper strength training or conditioning. Correct conditioning can help you last the whole season and a strong core is important to build a solid foundation.”

Earn a Stand-Up Triple by Focusing on the Game of Life

Playing a team sport isn’t only good for improving your fitness levels, but it also can help you grow your life both personally and professionally. The team sports characteristics of accountability, perseverance, being a gracious loser and having interdependency among teammates to accomplish a goal can carry over to positively affecting your business and family life.

“When I played competitive baseball, day in and day out there was one goal –- to win the championship,” reflects Gagliano. “In the corporate world, you deal with a similar scenario whether you’re working toward corporate revenue goals or launching a new product. It doesn’t happen overnight, but through cooperation, hard work, learning from each other and teamwork, you can accomplish larger goals as a team than you ever could as a single individual.”

“You learn to win and lose in sports,” adds Adams. “You learn what lucky shots are and what bad calls look like. You learn to work with a group and deal with ups and downs. You don’t always win in life, so you have to learn how to buckle up and keep pushing forward. If you don’t play a team sport, this can be a hard concept to understand.”

Slide into Home with a Commitment to Teamwork

When you have a strong team committed to working together to accomplish a common goal, you can hit the ball out of the park every time your team’s at bat. The teamwork concept relies on the premise that you won’t let your team down and everyone puts in the work needed to succeed.  There’s a strong level of accountability among teammates and you build personal bonds with other people that you may not have otherwise established in other parts of your life.

“I didn’t realize until I was out of sports that there’s something special about the connections and community you can make on a team,” reflects Gagliano.

If you’re ready for a real game-and-life-changer, check out a local summer sports league in your community. Meet new people, refresh your fitness motivation, practice good teamwork and have a ball!

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