How Off-Season Training Creates Better Athletes
Training during the season is a no-brainer. You need to practice hard to play well. This mantra is drilled into you by every coach you have ever had. But what do you do when the season ends? It’s tempting to take a long break and wait for the team to rejoin for training camp, but that might not be the smartest move. With proper off-season training, you could come back as a player that forces the coach to take notice and consider moving you up the depth chart.
Off-Season Training for the Professional Athlete
Professional athletes are on a never-ending treadmill; a cycle of practice and performance that normally dominates the majority of the year. With so much energy focused on competition, it is difficult if not impossible to work on specific goals or make dramatic gains during the season, especially without over training.
This is why a smart off-season training program is critical. With the right game plan, the off-season can be a time for rest and decompression, while still working to improve performance. The key is to create a strategy that maximizes results but still allows for both mental and physical relaxation.
Maintaining 60-70% cardio fitness makes ramping up for the season much easier, and the head start could lead to gains in this area when high-intensity workouts are introduced for the start of actual competition. This professional athlete off-season program utilizes exercises with different movement patterns than the primary sport played. In this model, swimmers should consider cycling and runners might be better off swimming. This allows for cardiovascular fitness without risk of over training certain muscle groups.
Off-season training is the perfect time to improve flexibility. Being more flexible can increase agility, speed, and the ability to perform explosive movements. It also is a safeguard against injury.
Some sports require athletes to perform heavy resistance training throughout the season, and some avoid it. Depending on your in-season program, the off-season is a chance to vary the routine and work on different muscle groups or different exercises to complement your regular workout.
Performance Training for Specific Goals
So, what if you want to improve a certain skill? Or, train specifically for your sport? Maybe add an inch to your vertical, or shave a tenth off your time in the forty? You can work on specific performance training during the season, but the demands of your sport make it hard. Fortunately, off-season training is a different story.
A quality performance training program will isolate the skills or techniques you want to improve and build a regimen designed to attack every area which contributes to success. For example, increasing your vertical will require jumping. A lot. But the program will also include flexibility, balance, and strength training designed to support your goal, as well as compatible cardiovascular workouts and nutrition plans.
Athletic Development for Young Athletes in the Off-Season
Parents and coaches sometimes fall into a trap with young athletes. With the increase in pressure to join year-round teams or else be left behind by the “serious” athletes, it is easy to believe that enrolling youths in premier one-sport programs will create mastery in technique and sport specific skills leading to better results in the long run. But, that is not always the case.
For young athletes, experts recommend building the fundamentals of athleticism first. These are general skills such as running, throwing, leaping, jumping, and bounding which will be utilized in all sports activities to some degree. Collectively, these actions will lead to increases in agility, balance, coordination, and speed- the ABCs of athleticism.
Mastering simple athletic movement is the basis for all other athletic success, and it is best done at an early age. After 12 years old, teaching fundamental skills begins to have diminishing returns. The best thing you can do for a young adult is firmly establish the ABC’s of athletic development during off-season training through a multi-sport environment and plenty of free play time. Concentrate on building a better athlete, and single sport success will follow.
Regardless of your sport or your level of competition, use the time between seasons wisely. Incorporate rest and recovery into your off-season training, and work on skills you otherwise might not be able to attack during competition. The off-season is an opportunity to grow as an athlete and a competitor, so take advantage of the downtime and return to the field ready to excel.
Activ8 Athleticism knows how to take care of your off-season needs.