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Many athletes use the offseason as a time to relax, forget all about their sport and take a break … that often includes ice cream and pizza. But those aren’t the kinds of athletes who improve.
Being “just good enough” to play a position isn’t the attitude of a player who gets better. Instead, always look at every situation as an opportunity to improve in some way. The offseason is a time when you probably won’t be on the ice or field or court that much, but that doesn’t mean you can’t become a better player.
Here are three tips on how to make your offseason productive and prepare you for next season. Older athletes may be able to work on these on their own, but for the younger ones, parents can use these tips to help their young players improve as well (of course, some of these may need to be altered for younger athletes).
1. Set Goals
If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you ever get to the place you want to be? The best way to start improving is to identify your weaknesses and then set goals to improve them. Goals are something that will keep you motivated enough to train and will give you something to work toward. When you don’t have a goal, your workouts will consist of just going through the motions.
Some of you may have a team you are hoping to make this coming season. Others may be looking to increase their speed or lean muscle mass to their body. Younger players may simply be looking to improve hand-eye coordination or make better contact with the ball next season. Whatever your goal is, write it down somewhere and read it every day. Put it in a place where you’ll see it at least once a day so that you can review it and continuously assess your progress.
Playing any sport requires a wide range of movement, whether it’s pivoting at the hips to hit a ball, being constantly bent over at the hips to handle a puck or being able to run and jump across a soccer field. In most cases, you’re going to encounter some muscle imbalance issues that need to be addressed. Believe it or not, something that many athletes can really benefit from in the offseason is adding a few yoga poses into their routines, like the frog pose or the pigeon pose for the hips. Check out this article on how yoga can help athletes for more information.
3. Add Muscle
Strength, power and speed are three key elements to any athlete’s game. And the best way to ensure you’re working toward getting stronger and faster is to pack on some muscle. A couple of ways to ensure you’re striving toward adding muscle is by working out with weights four times a week (if reasonable for your age range), while making sure you’re getting enough protein in your diet. A good rule of thumb is to shoot for 1 gram of protein for every one pound of body weight.
The offseason has to be looked at as a time to get better. Recovery is important, especially at the beginning of the offseason, but don’t take it to the extreme by taking the whole time off. Set goals, get healthy and pack on some muscle. You’ll be the better for it come next season.
Conor Doherty is a strength and conditioning coach from Dryden, Ont., Canada. He holds an Honors Bachelor of Kinesiology and his main goal is to help improve the performance of hockey players. Check out more of his articles at starfactoryfitness.com. Adapted from an article appearing on CrossIceHockey.com—Where Rec Hockey Lives. © 2015 Digital Media Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.