In basketball, you sometimes see it most directly. An athlete uses the off-season to develop a new skill. Quick point guards making a living on dribble penetration then all of a sudden have a three-point shot. Sharpshooters now own a post-up game. Dominant defensive centers improve their free throw shooting.
Taking cues from the pros, young athletes now engage in annual training. With a one-sport focus, athletes use their off-seasons to strengthen the weak links and and build muscle and endurance hopefully to return to a higher competitive form next season.
However, year round training comes with its issues. Our bodies were not meant to dive into such prolonged intense training and they are paying the price with more overuse injuries than ever.
The Reasons Behind Off-Season Training
The goal of off-season training is to position yourself for peak performances during the season, yet too many young athletes overextend themselves in the off-season, leaving them out of commission when it matters most.
While often overlooked or not honored, the most important key to the off season is rest and recovery. After a hard-fought season, chances are your body needs specific rest. If you’ve been fighting injuries, it is imperative to completely recover before training again.
Rest and recovery provide an optimal time to set goals, to reflect and assess both the successes and challenges of the previous season. The off season is an opportunity to sharpen the mental game and focus on nutritional changes.
This level of intent in an off-season is known as cyclical training; it acknowledges the need for rest and recovery, gives an opportunity to focus on nutrition, and the mental game but also lays the groundwork for better training when you return to your workouts.
Splitting Up Your Workout
So how should you differentiate off-season and in-season?
Some suggest periodization training. It aims to split training into three phases: preparatory, competition, and transition. Each phase fulfills a specific function keeping your body ready for peak performance during the season while helping your body rejuvenate and improve during the off-season.
If you compete in a sport where the distinction between off- and on-season is more muddled, consider using the seasons as a guide for cyclical training. Aim to focus your training toward your goals. When do you require your peak performance? Knowing that answer allows you to order your rest, recovery, and training to align with your goals.
Whether periodization or fall, winter, spring, and summer training, the goal is to balance your body and keep healthy.
Tailoring Your Workout
Remember your end goal: success in sporting competition. It is important to create a sport-dependent program which relies on the seasonal progression of rest, rejuvenation, and a smart workout plan to keep you healthy and ready for next season. The off-season provides an opportunity for improvement, but you need a plan! Whether a 3-point jump shot or improved free throw shooting, basketball players develop new skills with focused but planned hard work. They rest and recover. They alter their nutritional plans. They amp up their mental edge. And when they are ready, they add a 3-point jump shot. Likewise, be smart about your off-seasons no matter the sport you play!
If you don’t know where to start or could use some guidance regarding your off-season plans, let us know! We want to see you fulfill your full potential in sport and in life!