Did you know that for competitive athletes there is no such thing as an “off” season? Sure, the competitive season for their sport may only last a few months but this does not mean that they are lounging on their sofa watching TV for the rest of the year.
In fact, one of the most common behavioral patterns that I’ve seen holding back young athletes is an excessively lackadaisical approach to the parts of the year when their sport or sports of choice aren’t in competition.
What the “off” season truly represents is a fantastic opportunity to come back stronger, faster, and fitter than you ever were before. Every cycle between competitive seasons is another chance to continue to build on your athletic base and improve yourself. The development of elite athletes isn’t something that happens overnight, or even within the span of a few seasons – it’s a process that requires diligence and application over a much longer timescale.
Here are some tips to help you stay fit and healthy over your off season:
For the last few months you’ve likely settled into a routine between training and competing. The off season is your chance to incorporate new training methods to help prevent mental and physical burnout. Incorporate active recovery exercise methods such as yoga or pilates, do a military style bodyweight training bootcamp, go for a trail run, get on the beach and work on your speed and power – the list of possibilities is truly endless.
Nobody knows your shortcomings as an athlete quite like you do. That said, it sure doesn’t hurt to solicit feedback from your coaches and any athletic trainers you work with. The off season is the perfect time to isolate and address these issues so that they don’t hinder your performance next season or increase your risk of injury either. Some of the most common issues with young athletes are a lack of core and glute strength, balance issues, and poor running form.
Maintaining your mobility outside of competition season is absolutely vital and one of the best ways to reduce your risk of injury at any time. Stretching only takes 10-15 minutes a day at the most and can save you months on the sideline. It’s also much, much easier to maintain your current flexibility than it is to try and regain it in a short period of time as your competitive season approaches.
Don’t let the off season become sloth season!