Aug 10, 2018
Armed & Ready, Part 5
Tory Stephens

Part 1 of this article can be found here.

Part 2 of this article can be found here.

Part 3 of this article can be found here.

Part 4 of this article can be found here.

The last block of our offseason starts as soon as the players return from winter break in mid-January and lasts three to four weeks until mid- to late February. In some ways, this block doubles as our preseason because it lasts until our season begins.

During this phase, we go back to the three-day-a-week plan. We incorporate post-activation potentiation (PAP) at this time through force/velocity contrast to produce the most amount of power possible. I have learned a great deal about this method from Charlie Melton, MS, MSCC, CSCS, USAW, Director of Men’s Basketball Athletic Performance at Baylor University.

PAP is a method where a near-maximal activity increases the performance of a subsequent activity. You can see this theory in action when hitters swing a weighted bat while on deck so they can produce more bat speed when they step to the plate with a regular bat.

When applying this concept to the weightroom, some pairings we use are: a heavy 3RM squat followed by a bodyweight squat jump, a heavy step-up followed by bounding, a heavy 3RM bench press followed by a light medicine ball shot put, and a resisted sled run followed by a stance-start sprint. This method of training requires athletes to have a very good strength base to reap the benefits, so we save it for our last phase.

For conditioning, max sprinting volume is kept low in Block 4 so it doesn’t affect the energy of our lifts. We do our Monday linear speed development conditioning prior to our lift, and change-of-direction and short shuttle work is done pre-lift every Wednesday, which serves as a great nervous system recruiter for that day’s strength training. The only day we run after our weightroom session is on Fridays. This is because I tax the lower body with sled pushes and incline running that day, and I would rather the players condition in energy reserve than when performing squats or dead lifts.

Here’s a week-by-week breakdown of our programming in Block 4:

Week 21: Warm-up sets, then 3×3 at 75 to 80 percent of max, x3 of high velocity on supplemental exercises.

Week 22: Warm-up sets, then 4×2 at 80 to 85 percent of max, x3 of high velocity on supplemental exercises.

Week 23: Warm-up sets, then 5×1-2 at 88 to 90 percent of max, x3 of high velocity on supplemental exercises.

Week 24: Deload and play ball! Only potentiate heavy to light medicine balls, resisted to non-resisted sprints, and weighted to bodyweight-only jumps.

There you have it — our 24-week plan for the offseason. Of course, we modify it occasionally as the fall progresses depending on how the players are adapting, recovering, and performing, but overall, this is the programming that has worked for us.

Tory Stephens, MSCC, is in his 22st year as a strength coach and seventh as Assistant Athletic Director/Director of Strength, Conditioning, and Nutrition at Texas Tech University, where he works with the baseball team.

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