Use The Off-Season To Become A Better Athlete
Whether you play sport in a recreational league or varsity ball, off-season training can be the key to becoming the best player you can. The hard work you do in your time off — and the time you take to let your body recover — can “make or break” your next season and ultimately transform you into a better athlete. Whether you are in training for the summer marathon season, joining in on a recreational ice hockey league — or perhaps you are a serious contender in college sport — you should consider the time off you have between seasons as part of a continuous process of improvement. It is a formless — yet not wasted — time that you can work hard to make your own by adding your own structure, whether you want to take part in a different sport, consult with a health professional or trainer, recharge your batteries, or simply build on your skills.
Your Off-Season is a Blank Canvas
You should think of the off-season as a blank slate, a tabula rasa. You can find ways to retrain and reshape yourself as a player, by studying and adjusting certain areas of your game, sharpening your strengths, and improving directly on your weaknesses. The off-season is the best time to do this, because you have the time to devote to fundamentals, and the opportunity to take time for your own development. For many professional athletes, the off-season is the time when the most concrete improvement is made — and you, too, can take the time to shoot endless hoops or run punishing intervals, if you so desire. Regardless of your athletic goals, you should consider the time between seasons as a time dedicated to taking your personal and athletic development back to the basics, working on core skills and above all using the lack of structure to devote time to things that will work for you.
Use the Off-Season to Consult with Professionals
Have you been putting off getting treatment for a niggling pain or old injury? Do you feel that you need to work on your balance, strength, or speed? Most athletes, at any level, have devised ways of training themselves. But if you want to make astonishing gains in your off-season, you must seek out people to help you improve in different ways. Why not go to a nutrition or strength workshop? You should also consider taking part in another sporting pursuit that will take you out of your comfort zone, like basketball or wrestling. Consider working with a sparring instructor or personal trainer. Most importantly, you should consider seeing a physiotherapist or sports medicine professional during the off-season, especially if you have been injured in the last year. An exercise physiologist or physiotherapist can not only help you treat old injuries, but teach you how to prevent future injuries.
In the totally unstructured time that the off-season has to offer, you have the opportunity to push the limits and succeed. If you are a swift player on the field, the off-season gives you a golden opportunity to build lean muscle without bulk, allowing you to stay fast but be stronger than ever. Likewise, if you are a valuable team player but running has never been your strong suit, why not use the off-season to work on that? The off-season gives you a brilliant opportunity to work on weaknesses in a safe environment. By working hard to achieve new goals, you will strengthen yourself physically and mentally, and your commitment will pay dividends.
Take a Break
Most athletes, whether they are amateurs or pros, know that they have to push hard to get what they want. Not every sports enthusiast, however, knows when to stop. The off-season is a great opportunity to take a break and regroup. It is a time of year that you can use to work hard, then step back and assess your progress — this is not always easy during the sports season, where practice and games are only one of your many commitments. The off-season gives you the free-time to assess muscle groups that seem a little tired or sore, or rejuvenate practise sessions that seem a little stale. You have the free time to take a break or mix it up a little.