As the school year is coming to an end, we are all excited about what summer holds. Pool days, sleeping in, cook outs, etc. It is definitely important to enjoy the respite from school work and exams, or even to rejoice or reflect on how this past season played out. However, as an athlete, this may be the time to kick into a new gear. Summer brings an opportunity for healing, growth, and improvement. Training and recovery look very different from an in-season perspective vs an off-season perspective. If you have been around an elite team/coach, I am sure that you have heard the term “no off-season.” That is because the best players take that time to rest, but in a productive way.
Training in-season is focused on game day. What do we as a team need to do in order to be at our best for game day? This may mean managing injuries/tweaks as the season goes in order to stay in the fight vs addressing the underlying issue. It also means the training load is going to vary depending on game day. For example, if a team plays on Friday night, Monday and Tuesday practices are going to be heavier and more strenuous than the rest of the week. This is pretty well understood and athletic trainers do a wonderful job of keeping players in the game and as safe as possible.
Off season training on the other hand, should be focused on addressing those underlying issues and making that athlete bullet proof for the next season. You also need to be focusing on how to get faster and stronger during this time as well so that you have a leg up on your competition. If you are lucky enough to have a therapist and/or trainer that is really great, they will be able to accomplish both with you at the same time. The best way to beat the injury roller coaster is to stay off of it! With prevention training, you can decrease your odds of encountering a time loss injury that will result in missed game minutes.