So, here we are, the end of June, 2016, school is almost out for the calendar year and what is upon most baseball players? What’s upon them is simple... its travel time; tournament time; showcase time...it is for many the best time of the summer. Not necessarily the most important time, but it is often considered the best time. Players’ playing on travel teams from across Canada and the US begin their annual trek through various provinces and states, all gearing up for their initial travel schedule. How much fun is that? School is out, away from mom and dad, albeit some for the first time, and nothing but baseball surrounds their minds. Boy, you have to love that!
As nice as it all sounds on the outside when you hear Billy is going there and Johnny is going there and Sammy is going there, each player needs to take a look and ask themselves “am I going to just have fun, being around a group of buddies for an extended period of time and use this time to hang out” or “am I going to use the travel time with this group (team) and work toward a lifetime goal”? If the answer is the former, then why go on the trip? If the answer is the latter, then let’s take a peek into what these road trips will look like.
First, many of you will deal with travel by bus. When you travel bus, remember the bus goes only so fast. Thus, instead of asking “how much further” or “when are we getting there”, sit back, enjoy your teammates and the camaraderie you create while on these trips and make the most of your time together. It’s a great time to bring a book, maybe a baseball book, fictional, non-fictional or better yet, books based on how the game of baseball is played. There is plenty more to learn about this game than just what happens on the field, in a cage or in a training facility. Boy oh boy, should you move in the game of baseball to college or professional baseball, get used to these trips. It’s the life of a baseball player.
But, coach, what about sleep? Wow, an interesting question. That is part of each player’s attitude toward their own personal goal. Of course the bus is the bus, sleep will happen, most likely interrupted sleep, but it will happen. Once you arrive at your destination spot, sleep is the one of the most critical elements. That, along with hydration and the correct food intake will often times determine how well you play or pitch. These three components cannot EVER be underestimated. But the nightly sleep itself is most essential. If you choose to stay up till all hours of the night, playing up to your potential will be a real challenge. So, what is the moral? Remember players, you can’t burn the candle from both ends.
Your food intake...hey players, I am not talking the amount of junk food you take in, I am talking about the amount of the right foods that you are taking in. If you are unsure, ask your local trainer; go to a local supplement store, ask them; ask your doctor. Whomever you speak with, ensure you are getting right amount of food on a daily basis. When the bus stops, look around for the best food choice rather than the quickest (and generally worst). Bring protein on your travels, pack it in individual lunch bags and when the bus stops, instead of drinking the typical player choice, grab some water (and lots of it daily) and mix in your protein. I am telling you, on road trips, you players need your protein. It is inevitable that players will not eat like they would normally do at home, but, as aspiring young baseball players, growing into young adults, making the right food choices now will play dividends on trips and long down the road.
I hear some of you are travelling to some very hot weather areas and will be immersed in air-conditioned rooms (and buses) daily. Well the AC can certainly help you cool down, but it can also stiffen up joints and cause necks to get stuck. Here is some friendly advice on AC. On the bus, in the car or SUV, always have sleeves on. A vehicle is much easier to regulate the AC levels, but, a bus, man, when it gets cold its cold. Wear those sleeves. Also, if you throw with your right hand, get on the left side of the bus and vice versa for a left handed thrower, get to the right side. Last thing you want is your throwing arm to seize up while on an extended trip.
Now you have got up for the morning and are ready to get after it. Perfect! Did you eat? A major bone of contention with players is their lack of breakfast or better yet, the lack of respect (maybe knowledge) for breakfast. Can’t say it enough...EAT! If you don’t eat, most likely you will fail. Oatmeal, bananas, juice, eggs, don’t just eat cereal and think you can get after it. No chance. Yes it might be the same thing daily, but again, players, you are not at home.
Game time, perfect...when is BP coach? Hey fellas, this isn’t the big leagues, it is tournament play. There is no BP, and most of the time there is no in and out. Get used to it. Don’t make excuses for the lack of whatever that contributed to your poor play or different routines. Too bad, this is what travel baseball is all about. Strap it on, show and go and let’s play. Are there things you can do? Sure, first learn to take the bull by the horns and focus on what you need. Before you leave the hotel, if you need to do arm care, band work or certain stretches, do them there. Once at the field, as another game is going on, find a spot to do what you need to do to get what you need to get done. The worst thing you can do is not do what you need because nobody else is doing it. Take ownership of your future, do what you need to do and don’t worry about the others.
Finally, remember, baseball is baseball no matter where you go. The bus is the bus, the hotel is the hotel, your roommates are your roommates, the hotel bed is the bed and you are not getting tucked in at night nor is a story being read to you. Grow up, become young adults, grab that ownership of your future goals and work harder than the guy beside you. Good luck on your summer trips.