6 Ways To Use Your Off-Season Like A Pro
After a long, taxing competitive season, parents and players alike are often seeking to some well-deserved time off.
While it’s important for all athletes, regardless of their level of play, to have an off-season to recover, how young athletes spend their time off can have a huge impact on their next competitive season.
1. Catch Up On Rest
While the off-season may look different for different sports and athletes, one suggestion holds true across the board. It’s important for young athletes to take time off from competing in their sport during the off-season.
That’s right: no training sessions or games for a few weeks! This is a critical time for young athletes to give their muscles a break and recover.
Although it might worry some that time away from the sport could be detrimental to a player’s skill, the opposite effect has been found true.
Take young baseball pitchers for example – the American Sports Medicine Institute recommends they avoid overhead throwing of any kind for at least two to four months per year to avoid injury.
Take the time allotted during the off-season to go on vacation, relax, or participate in a new activity for fun!
2. Try Out Something New
Studies have shown that participating in more than one sport is actually beneficial to young athletes! Not only does it decrease the mental burn-out caused by over-exposure to one sport, but it also increases athleticism.
For example, a basketball player can benefit from participating in baseball during their off-season. The differing sports will train the athlete in body movements that are not generally worked in the other and will help with their overall play.
Specializing too young in a specific sport puts young athletes at risk for physical overuse and chronic injuries. The repetitive movements of a single sport can cause muscle imbalances and tightness, leading to decreased performance.
3. Focus On The Skills
After taking a few weeks off to rest, young athletes are still advised to avoid their sport during the off-season. Instead, focus on building skills that will be put to use during the competitive season.
Building up a skill repertoire should be done at a much lower intensity and volume than what would be practiced during the season. This should be used as the time to correct fundamentals.
For example, basketball players can increase their chance of knee problems if they incorrectly hit the ground with their toes. Toes should be kept up towards the sky. During the off-season, basketball players should perform ground contact drills to make sure they’ve corrected their posture before the competitive season arrives.
Improving fundamental skills like jumping, squatting, and landing can all increase a player’s overall athleticism.
4. Become Stronger
Off-season training is the perfect time for young athletes to build up their muscle mass, making them faster and stronger for their next competitive season.
Professional athletes, like Walter Payton, put a strong emphasis on off-season training to get stronger. Payton used to run on sand during his time off to build up his leg muscle, making him much faster on the field.
5. Pick Activities To Complement Your Sport
Some sports advise against certain activities during the competitive season. For example, volleyball players are discouraged from long distance running, bicycling, and swimming.
The off-season is the perfect time for young players to participate in these activities! Athletes should remember to fade out these activities as the competitive season gets closer.
6. Maintain A Healthy Diet
The off-season allows young athletes to relax, and with that may come more opportunity for unhealthy eating. It is even more important to maintain a structured diet to avoid weight gain after lessening the amount of physical activity the young athlete is participating in.
Keeping a healthy diet during the off season can keep an athlete focused and ready for their next chance to compete!
Have suggestions you’d like to add to the list? Share with us your off-season tips in the comments section below!