With high school tryouts wrapping up in New England, and the college season in full swing, athletes are shifting their focus from the off-season program to their practices, games, and hopefully, their in-season lifts!
In-Season Training, although may seem like a challenge, really isn’t all that difficult if you have a plan. Often times it’s just the perception of expending more energy during this time of year is what gives athletes a negative impression on lifting in-season…and because their schedule is filled with so many games and practices, it’s easy to neglect this critical time to take care of your body.
I’ll tell you from experience, athletes who put an emphasis on their in-season training, will see a huge difference in strength, range of motion, mobility and positive performance trends over the long term than athletes who skip it and try to pick up after the season has completed.
5 Tips to Maintain Performance During the Season.
1. Maintain body weight
It’s not uncommon for athletes to pack on anywhere from 5-20lbs in an offseason. Body weight can affect strength, power and force production. You don’t want those numbers to decrease as the season progresses. A decrease in strength and power will have a negative effect on performance!
Make sure to consistently weigh yourself during the season to notice any trends. If you see your weight dropping, you may have to adjust your eating habits. For example; consuming a bigger breakfast (more calories), snacking throughout the day/game, and eating a quality meal post game/practice will help combat the loss of body weight. Calories should be the biggest focus during the season.
2. Maintain Mobility
Mobility restrictions could potentially cause injuries just as strength losses can also play a role. The stress and high volume of practices and games during a season may lead to lots of mobility losses if an athlete isn’t proactive daily.
It’s not uncommon for us to assess athletes after their season and see a decrease in range of motion compared to their offseason assessment. Other contributing factors to mobility loss in season is a lot of standing around, and long, cramped bus rides. The in-season program can help restore this loss of range of motion around a joint.
It’s not uncommon to have only 1 off-day during the season, so you must use that day wisely. Understand that your body may be craving rest and sleep and getting that quality sleep will require you to get back to a parasympathetic state…which can be a real challenge for most athletes.
Focus on stretching, breathing and low impact exercises to bring your body back to a resting state. Take a look at our MOVEMENT DAY, that might help give you some guidance during one of your off-days.
You should also be aiming for 8 hours of sleep each night. Studies show that sleeping less than 8 hours per night may increase the risk of an injury during performance! When it comes to sleep, sacrifice the video games and the phone scrolling. If you’re traveling a lot, invest in a neck pillow to help combat the awkward positions you may find yourself in!
I wrote about Hydration and Water Intake HERE and HERE, This one is pretty simple, but also easily overlooked. Dehydration can reduce strength, power, and negatively effect cognitive performance. Even if you’re not thirsty, always be drinking water!
5. Maintain strength
In-season training shouldn’t be complicated. It should consist of exercises you are familiar with, exercises that limit the amount of eccentric workload, and exercises that are not high-effort jumping and landing motions to help reduce muscle soreness.
Sessions should last between 30-60 mins in duration, keeping volume low and intensity (load) high. This is where quality training trumps quantity of training (duration). When you lift in-season, think about integrating all of the following elements:
- Soft tissue work
- Dynamic Warm-Up
- Strength/Power Training
- Recovery (Depending on time of day will determine the style of recovery)
We are only focused on 4-5 exercises, with 2-5 sets of 3-6 reps. That’s it! Less is more this time of year! So, if you’re thinking about taking 2-3 months off this year, just remember that’s almost 8-12 months off from lifting over the course of your 4-year high school career. That’s an insane amount of months lost from training.
Maintaining your strength during the season isn’t as time consuming or difficult as some athletes make it seem. It just takes a little bit of planning, attention to detail, and creativity!
Guest Post written by Wasserman Strength Performance Coach, Matt Horan