As Covid-19 remains to linger and affect our daily lives, our next steps are always in question. There is one thing that we cannot deny and that is for many athletes in season-driven regions, the off-season is fast-approaching. Yes, the dreaded off-season is nearly here.
The off-season is a time when competition in your main sport is at a lull. You may still be practicing or participating in some type of sport-related activity, but the time involved is significantly decreased. The off-season is crucial to developing increased athletic potential.
Many athletes are dumbfounded during this period of decreased activity. Many often wonder what they should be doing, how they should approach this time, or if they should simply rest. As training schedules lighten, I think one of the most important things is to sit down and think about off-season goals you would like to accomplish. Do not just think about next season ?!
I often hear individuals talk about their in-season goals and I rarely hear athletes talk about their off-season goals. Setting off-season goals will not only help you prepare your body for competition but also help you approach the next competitive season with newfound energy. Setting off-season goals will only make your journey to your in-season goals that much easier!
So, what should one be focusing on during this phase of the season? Where should your goals lie? The off-season is a time where sport-specific activity should decrease, and time spent doing alternative activities increases. It is a time where an athlete’s focus should be building increased strength, improving endurance capacity, overall wellness, and decreasing risk for injury.
I recommend making a list of strengths and weaknesses from both an athletic perspective and a wellness perspective (if you are struggling, ask your coach or trainer!). If you can determine areas of weakness in both performance & wellness, you have a jumpstart on making off-season goals. Athletic and performance strengths and weaknesses may include endurance, strength, speed, agility, knowledge of play, etc. Health and wellness metrics may include things such as sleep, stress, nutrition, hydration, and more.
Once you determine areas that need strengthening, ask yourself, “What do I need to do to get there?”. The answer to that question will be the backbone of your off-season goals. Remember, doing more of one thing does not always mean improvement. That is why I recommend mixing things up in the off-season. Remember, less time spent in sport-specific activity, and more time spent doing other things (even if you do not like them ?).
If you are a runner who wants to get faster, but you never strength train, improving your strength is a key to improving speed. The same goes for athletes who want to improve their endurance, agility, and reaction time. Running drills repeatedly may make a slight difference but will not make all the difference. Are you struggling with stress levels or sleep? Start making goals based on those things. We all know that adequate sleep is required for performance and recovery!
Those are just a few of the things I make my athletes work on in the off-season. Off-season goals are imperative to help improve health, wellness, and performance! If you have questions or need assistance figuring out how to set off-season goals to help you reach in-season goals, please do not hesitate to reach out!