When we take into account that many fastpitch pitchers start their preseason workout in January and continue through the high school season and then end in August at Nationals, this time frame of over seven months is longer than a Major League Baseball Season. And for those whose high school season is in the fall, their season is even longer ending in October.
So no wonder fastpitch softball pitchers get fatigued, have chronic nagging injuries and even career ending injuries from over use and lack of proper rest.
Between summer season, off season workouts, pitching practice, pitching lessons, learning new pitches, summer ball and for older players, the high school season, there never seams to be a good time to take a break.
Its a fact that if you don’t have a plan, time will get away from you. This is why I developed the Cycling Rest System for Fastpitch Pitchers. This system is based on a University of Wisconsin study that researched the negative effects of overtime on work productivity.
As you can see from this chart if a grown man works 10 hours a day for 6 days (or what is called 6-10’s) within a month his efficiency is only 78%. Consider the implications of this. A grown man working 5-8’s or 40 hours a week, when he works 6-10’s or 60 hours a week does not increase his productivity by 50%, rather, as time passes, his productivity continues to decrease due to fatigue. After only four weeks his productivity is 78%. Now 78% of 60 hours is 46.8 hours. This is a long way for the 60 hours he is actually working. And this is only after 4 weeks.
The loss in efficiency becomes even more dramatic when it shifts to a 7 day work week.
Now extend this over a six or seven month season and you can see that the drop in efficiency is dramatic.
It is obvious from this that constant activity quickly reaches a point of diminishing returns. When I worked as a Construction Management Consultant, and a project got behind, and we needed to increase the amount of work in order to meet a deadline, we implemented a cycling rest system. We would do one, two or three weeks on overtime and then return to a normal schedule. After a week or two of a normal work schedule of 5-8’s we would again return to the overtime schedule. This cycling on and off would allow the work crews to catch up on their rest — and with rest came increased productivity.
Knowing the difference between success and failure in fast pitch is minimal, the amount of loss in efficiency that comes from lack of proper rest is devastating to a player’s performance and success.
In light of this data, our team rule requires at least one full day of rest every week. My players and pitchers are not allowed to do any type of activity on that day including the infamous basketball and volleyball clinics. They simply rest one day a week.
The cycling rest system over a full year would look something like this.
- One full day of rest every week.
- Then once a month three consecutive days of rest.
- Then once a quarter five to seven consecutive days rest.
- Then once a year a full three weeks to one month of rest.
This Cycling Rest System prevents players from getting caught in the downward spiral of inefficiency documented in the University of Wisconsin study. It heals the physical, mental and emotional drain players experience from the normal schedule and routine. In addition it eliminates those chronic over use injuries that reduce a player’s performance, playing time and even carrier ending injuries.
On one occasion after learning one of my pitchers who took lessons from me had not rested for over a year, I refused to give her a lesson until she rested. She took a week off and then returned. What was surprising is the issue they had originally set up the lesson to get fixed — lack of movement — was already fixed by the rest. In addition when I asked this pitcher, “What’s different?” she responded, “I can actually feel the ball in my hand.” That means she had been pitching so much, for so long, she had over stimulated the nerve endings in her finger tips. With a little rest, this came back and with it the ability to properly grip and spin the ball.
So to repeat – pitchers are to set their schedule so that after practices, lessons and workouts they have at least one day a week where they do no athletic activity at all. A pitcher’s schedule that includes the Cycling Rest System would look something like this.
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The key is to have the courage to stick to the Cycling Rest System. When players fail to perform after coming off a period of rest, they will point to the rest days as an excuse for their lack of performance. And although it is true that immediately after a period of rest an individual player’s performance my take a slight dip for a few reps, there are ways to prevent this dip from entering a game situation. For example, I have my pitchers throw a similated game at game speed, or live hitting before they return to a game. When we do this my pitchers were always able to return to pre-rest performance levels within half a pitching workout.
In any event, the dip should not have an impact on performance in light of the fact that once a pitcher arrives on the other side of the rest, she will perform at 100% efficiency which is far better than a fatigued pitcher who performs at 90%, 85% or even 60% efficiency.
Coaches, remember your first responsibility is to the health and well fair of your players.
Parents, be honest and admit that many of you would never do the schedule you expect your daughter to do.
So give it a rest. After all, even God rested!
© 2010 – 2013, Greg Loveless. All rights reserved.