Spring Sports Training Guide

May 18 2023
sports training

Hope Springs Eternal. Get The Spring Sports Training Guide.



Spring is a season of renewal and growth. Warmer weather, later daylight, the smell of freshly-cut grass in the air. 

The crack of a baseball bat, the ping of a tennis serve.

As March turns to April, the season for outdoor sports starts anew. Whether you’re a runner, a golfer, a softball pitcher or an ultimate frisbee fan, spring offers a wealth of opportunities to play, improve your fitness and boost your skills.

However, with the change in weather and playing conditions, training for spring sports requires some adjustments. 

Here’s a spring sports training guide to help you effectively prep for the season ahead.



Three people stretching for a run in the park
When starting spring sports again, ease into your new training regimen.



Start Slowly and Build Gradually



Don't do too much too soon



When you’re coming off a winter break or transitioning from indoor sports to outdoor play, it’s important to ease into your new training regimen. 

Start with a few easy workouts or drills to help your body adjust to the new demands of spring sports.  Gradually increase the intensity and duration of your exercises over the course of several weeks. You’ll reduce your risk of setbacks or injury and set yourself up for success.

Here are a few easy exercises to help you get started again for spring sports:

  1. Jogging or Running: Rocky was right—running is a great way to build your cardiovascular endurance and stamina. Start with a slow and steady pace, and gradually increase your speed and distance as you become more comfortable in your running shoes. Need a boost? A running playlist helps.
  2. Jumping Jacks: Simple yet effective, jumping jacks work your legs, core, and upper body, and help warm you up for more strenuous activities.
  3. Lunges: Lunges are great for strengthening your legs and improving your overall balance. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Then, step forward with one foot and bend your knee until your thigh is parallel to the ground. Return to your starting position, then repeat with the other leg.
  4. Push-ups: The classic upper body strength builder that impacts your chest, arms, and shoulders. Start with a modified push-up on your knees if necessary, and work your way up to full push-ups. As you get more advanced, there are all sorts of other push-up types to try, from plank push-ups to shoulder taps.
  5. Squats: Squats are key for lower body strength, particularly in your glutes, thighs, and hips. Start with bodyweight squats, and gradually increase the intensity by holding weights or adding resistance bands.

Remember to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts to avoid injury. Always warm up before exercising and cool down afterward to help prevent muscle soreness and stiffness.



Incorporate dynamic warmups



Whether the weather is cold, or you’re just starting a workout, your muscles and joints may be stiff. Dynamic warm-ups can help get your blood pumping to improve your performance, and reduce the chance of injury.

Dynamic warm-ups are a series of movements and exercises that mimic the actions of your sport. They increase your heart rate and prep your muscles for the work ahead. Unlike static stretches, dynamic warmups keep your body in motion, helping circulation while improving your range of motion.

A few types of dynamic warm up exercises to add to the mix:

  1. Arm circles: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and extend your arms out to the sides. Make small circles with your arms, gradually increasing the size of the circles.
  2. Shoulder rolls: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and roll your shoulders forward, then backward in a circular motion.
  3. Walking high kicks: AKA Frankensteins—put your hands out in front of you and walk forward, kicking your legs straight up to your hands with each step
  4. High knees: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and run in place, bringing your knees up to your chest with each step.
  5. Butt kicks: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and run in place, bringing your heels up to touch your buttocks with each step.
  6. Leg swings: Stand facing a wall or sturdy object and swing one leg back and forth in a controlled motion, then repeat with the other leg.
  7. Churning butter: Bend your elbows and hold your fists out like you are gripping a ski pole, and make inward circles to mimic churning butter. Repeat making outward circles.
  8. Speed skaters: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, and knees slightly bent. Jump sideways onto your left foot, and swing your right arm forward. Jump to the right, swinging your left arm ahead. 

Remember to start with smaller ranges of motion and gradually increase the intensity of your dynamic warmups to avoid injury.



Focus on core strength



Strong core muscles help athletes. Period. Your core muscles are the foundation of your athletic performance. They help you maintain balance, stability, and power. A strong core helps reduce the chance of a back injury, in particular. 

To improve your core strength, include exercises that target your abs, obliques, and lower back, such as planks, side planks, and crunches. You can also incorporate exercises that challenge your balance, such as single-leg squats or standing on one foot while throwing a ball.

Here are some reasons why it’s important for athletes to work their core:

  1. More explosiveness: Athletes with a strong and stable core can transfer force more efficiently between the upper and lower body, leading to more powerful movements and explosiveness. This is a huge benefit in quick-twitch sports like baseball, softball, and tennis
  2. Injury prevention: Core strength reduces the load placed on other parts of the body, such as the lower back.
  3. Posture and balance: Athletes who maintain good posture and balance can improve their technique, and reduce the risk of falls or other balance-related injuries.
  4. Endurance: Core muscles play a vital role in maintaining endurance particularly in sports that require a lot of running or jumping.

Bonus points: A strong core pays off at the beach. Six-pack abs, anyone?



Emphasize speed and agility



Whether you’re running the bases, sprinting down the field, returning serve, or changing direction on a dime, spring sports often require quick bursts of motion. 

To improve your speed and agility, incorporate drills such as ladder drills, cone drills, and shuttle runs. 

  1. Ladder drills: Set an agility ladder on the ground and practice different footwork patterns, such as high knees, lateral shuffles, and quick steps.
  2. Cone drills: Place cones in a pattern and practice running around them in different directions and at different speeds.
  3. Plyometric jumps: Explosive box jumps, hurdles, and broad jumps improve your power and speed.
  4. Sprint intervals: Alternate between sprinting and jogging or walking for set intervals, such as 30 seconds of sprinting followed by 30 seconds of rest.
  5. Shuttle runs: Run back and forth between two cones or markers, touching each one with your hand or foot, to practice quick changes of direction.
  6. Tuck jumps: Perform a squat jump and bring your knees up to your chest, then immediately jump again and repeat.

For a fun enhancement to agility drills, train with a partner. Measure your results. Challenge each other to beat past performances and win head-to-head tests. You’ll have bragging rights all summer…



Hydrate and fuel your body



It’s always important to stay hydrated and fuel your body properly—warmer weather only raises the stakes. Dehydration can lead to cramps, fatigue, and poor performance.

Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workouts, and eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and complex carbohydrates. Proper nutrition can help you maintain energy levels, and recover quicker from workouts.

Dehydration can negatively impact an athlete’s performance and health. Here are some potential consequences:

  1. Impaired physical performance: Dehydration can cause a decrease in blood volume, which can reduce oxygen supply to the muscles, leading to fatigue. 
  2. Cramping: A lack of fluids can cause cramps. When muscles seize up suddenly it can take an athlete out of the game, impacting the team and potentially their individual health.
  3. Heat illness: Dehydration increases the risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can be serious and potentially life-threatening conditions.
  4. Weakened mental aptitude: When dehydrated an athlete’s mental performance may suffer, leading to confusion and poor decision-making.
  5. Gastrointestinal problems: Constipation, nausea, and vomiting are all signs of dehydration.

It’s crucial for athletes of all skill levels, from ultramarathoners to beer league softball players to drink plenty of fluids. (Not just beer.)



Get enough rest and recovery



Sports are demanding on your body. Take rest and recovery time seriously. Get plenty of sleep each night, and give your muscles time to recuperate. 

Here’s how rest and recovery can help an athlete:

  1. Protection from injuries: Overuse injuries occur when an athlete trains too much without adequate rest, leading to damage to the muscles, tendons, and bones. Rest and recovery allow the body to repair and rebuild itself, reducing the risk of injury.
  2. Promotes muscle repair and growth: When an athlete exercises, their muscles undergo micro-tears that need to be repaired to become stronger. Give your body the time it needs to heal and rebuild muscle tissue.
  3. Helps reduce inflammation: Intense exercise can cause inflammation in the body, leading to soreness and pain. Taking breaks from training can alleviate inflammation.
  4. Improves mental health: Training for sports can be mentally and emotionally taxing, too. Proper rest helps an athlete recharge mentally, reducing the risk of burnout and improving overall mental health.
  5. Allows for better performance: With adequate rest and recovery time, an athlete is better positioned to perform at their best. 

Overall, rest and recovery are essential for athletes to achieve their full potential and maintain optimal health and performance.



Set goals and track your progress



Finally, set goals for yourself and track your progress throughout the spring season. Here are some ways to set and track goals in sports:

  1. S.M.A.R.T. goals: Set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This means setting goals that are specific to the sport, measurable in terms of progress, attainable with effort, relevant to overall performance, and have a clear deadline.
  2. Identify short-term and long-term goals: Short-term goals are important for building momentum and tracking progress, while long-term goals are important for setting the overall direction and focus.
  3. Use a journal or planner: Record progress, achievements, and setbacks to help track progress over time and identify areas for improvement.
  4. Work with a coach or mentor: Someone who can help set goals, provide feedback, and hold you accountable for progress.
  5. Use technology: Apps, wearable devices, or other technology can help you track progress, measure performance, and spotlight what to focus on to improve.
  6. Celebrate milestones: Celebrate progress and milestones along the way to keep motivation high and maintain focus on the end goal.

Overall, setting and tracking goals in sports is an important part of improving performance and achieving success. By monitoring key metrics, athletes can stay focused, motivated, and ready to crush their spring sports goals.

With Clearwater Benefits, your visits to sports medicine specialists are included as specialist visits. Have questions or need a health plan? Book a call with a Clearwater expert today.

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