Young athletes rarely have an off-season or a general preparation phase of training due to year-round sports training. Do not fear, it is a great time to allow your body to heal, renew, and focus on the basics. It is not a time to do nothing, but to do something different. Preparation is key to matching the physical qualities of the athlete to the physical demands of the sport. This will ultimately improve your performance when pre-season and in-season training begins. These basic qualities include aerobic fitness and strength with consideration of an athlete’s age, injury history, and training history.
Improving your aerobic endurance and strength is best done in this preparatory phase. Aerobic endurance is any exercise that uses oxygen to meet the energy demands at a light to moderate intensity for 30-60 minutes of duration. When performing aerobic exercise, a clue that you are performing at the right intensity is the talk test. Athletes should feel slightly winded and be able to talk. Aerobic endurance training does not include sprinting where you are developing your anaerobic system. That should be trained during the pre-season. Utilizing different methods of training is a great way to allow your body to renew itself while improving itself in other areas. Ways to improve aerobic endurance include bike riding, swimming, jogging, jump roping, or walking.
Increasing your strength during the off-season is also a way to help improve your performance when you return to team training. Depending on the sport you play, there are different exercises that will help you to prepare and also prevent injuries. Here is a link to a great website that will provide a specific program for you, dependent upon your sport. They also have a Get Set – Train Smarter App to access your program.
Remember to let your age, injury history, and training history guide you in what activities to perform and for how long. If you have been dealing with injuries, then take this time to unload and train in a different capacity. Appreciating the benefits of an off-season or a general preparation time is essential to high-performing athletes.
If you are a female soccer player, ages 13-17, and want to join an amazing training journey to better play, led by pro soccer player Alex Kimball, starting March 15th, click here.