Get better in the off-season…
And make sure there IS an off-season.
High school athletes are asked to do far more of less than ever before.
What do I mean? I mean the idea of committing to one sport has only become more prevalent.
Multiple factors play a role in the uptick of this phenomenon. They include:
- AAU sports or any other traveling team organizations
- Pressure to get scholarships for college
- Pressure from high school coaches and parents
- Pressure on oneself to be the best
These factors aren’t malicious inherently, and some are very well intended…but the idea is still the same, and so is the outcome: When athletes don’t have a time to recharge their batteries in an off-season, they limit their potential. That is in regards to both the physical and mental aspect of sport.
The mental side of sport is not my background, but anecdotally from both a strength coach and high school basketball coachperspective, athletes that take time away from a sport are refreshed and hungry to get back into their sport. Those athletes who never quit playing are sometimes burnt out and seem to go through the motions because it’s non-stop season for them. The same grind all the time. I get it…..ball is life….
The physical side of sport IS my background, and that off-season is the best time to get BETTER. I know…it’s a hard sell to both kids and parents that taking time away from a sport may actually make them better at that sport…but I believe it will (and so do many other professions, check out some of the research links below). The off-season is a great time to address physical limitations that you have on the court/field/ice etc. I played three sports in high school and basketball in college (it was small school J). Bottom line: I was too small and too weak to reach my potential. Skills were good, but I ran into physical limitations on the floor.
You can’t change height, but this is an area that CAN be changed with hard work. Strength and explosiveness are traits very common to successful athletes across all sports, but not exclusive to those born with it.
Can you help it if you’re too short or tall? Nope.
Can you help it if you’re not as strong as your competitors? Yup.
Should you just accept that others are more naturally “gifted” than you? Nope.
Should you put in the work to become the best athlete you can? Yup.
The summer is a great time, especially for fall and winter sport athletes, to train and get BETTER. Invest time in yourself to get faster, stronger, more muscular and build more efficient movement mechanics in a smart strength and conditioning program. Find your off-season, improve and return to the season a different player, both you and your coach will be pumped!