The Importance of In-Season Training for Athletes

Modern sports, even at the youth level, carries with it the accepted idea that athletes need to train outside of their competitive season in order to be at their best. This is a relatively new phenomenon, but it has become common practice even for elementary school athletes to train for their sport during the off-season.

As accepted as off-season training has become, athletes and coaches expect the season to start with every member of the team in good condition, even in top condition. Most athletes throughout Section V are motivated to succeed, and put the needed time and effort into training in the weight room, exercise class, skills training and so on. Lately, and with good reason, the idea of in-season training has also gained widespread acceptance throughout the country. Why is that?

Training is generally recommended for two reasons; first, to reduce the risk of injury, and second to improve overall athleticism. What “athleticism” means varies sport to sport, but in general, it involves the strength, conditioning, speed, agility and power required for the sport being played. In-season training becomes important when one considers that the competitive season can take its toll on your body, especially given the congested competition schedule most school-based athletes undergo. It’s not unusual to play 2-3 games per week in many sports, if not more. Whereas it’s common to enter training camp in your best possible shape, many athletes become a shadow of their training-camp selves as the post season hits. In other words, just as their skills and understanding of the sport, and their team’s style should be clicking on all cylinders, the rigors of the season’s congested schedule and its physical and mental demands can take their toll. It’s therefore common for strength, speed and all the other skills honed during the off season to slip, opening the athlete up to an increasing risk of injury just as the games become their most competitive!

In-season training is designed to avoid this. Rather than being the difficult, exhausting workout style of the off season, these training sessions address maintenance of all the skills built up during the off season, while preserving the improved resistance to injury as well. In an ideal program, in-season training can even advance your skills beyond to their highest point of the season! Think about the best professional athletes you know, and they all train throughout their season in programs that are modified with one goal in mind – to keep, and to surpass, one’s training-camp level of preparedness.

In-season training is built around the competitive schedule. Strength training is lowered in frequency to 1-2 times per week, and much of the focus of remaining training time is given to recovery and restoration. This might be different for each athlete, but can include form training to improve movement patterns, rehab of minor injuries and mobility/tissue work to ease the aches and pains that come with the competitive season.

The bottom line in every sport is that no athlete is valuable to the team if he/she’s time is spent nursing an injury. Maintaining strength training in a program that addresses the ongoing nature of the competitive grind reduces that risk of injury to muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints, while also reinforcing the movement patterns you’ve spent so long to develop during the offseason. A proper training program reduces the time it takes to recover from either injury, “minor” knocks, bruises and simply the rigors of the competitive season itself on your body. You’ve worked so hard to “get there.” Do all you can to keep yourself there, and to enter the most fun and competitive time of the season in top form!!

For more information regarding our 4Athlete program and our in-season training, please contact us at info@4performance.org or visit our website at www.4performance.org/sport.

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