For many winter sports, the season is coming to a close. Summer is around the corner, and we all can become a bit more lazy with our off-season training. It can be prevalent that throughout the season, we pick up a couple of injuries and niggles. This offseason training, therefore, can have more importance than we realise to reduce the risk of injury when we start up training again.
Off-season training can be seen as a waste of time due to having no sport-specific goals. However off-season training can reduce injury rates, feeling burned out, can improve quality of training throughout the year, save money from not needing treatment from health professionals, and can improve an athlete’s overall health and wellbeing. Continued training can also open windows of opportunity to focus on recovery and develop weaker aspects of your game. It can also enable us to set new routines, new workouts, and even further research that apply to their sport.
The off-season can be used as an excellent opportunity to work on your game. This time enables athletes and coaches to reflect on the season and create plans for the year ahead. Training can become mixed up, incorporating more cross-training such as gym work. Improvements can range from technique, strength, equipment adjustments, mental training, recovery, or nutritional adaptations, which gives the perfect opportunity to develop these high-level skills.
When discussing training loads, we can talk about acute and chronic workload. This can be of great value as it helps us reduce the risk of developing load-related injury when starting up training again. During the season, it can be hard to fully recover from an injury, instead of working to manage it to be able to play and train. Working on patterns of injury – (i.e. a recurrent calf injury, etc.) the offseason gives the perfect time to work on your weaknesses, so in the in-season, you can refine your strengths. A lot of the time, it is seen that before an event or the beginning of the season that training is crammed together. Therefore having a peak in acute training load can impact the efficiency of our training. In turn, preseason training goals may not be accomplished, and an increase in the risk of injury earlier in the season can be seen.
A reduction in chronic load for four weeks (i.e. rest or minimal training load) can take an additional 2.5 weeks of further training to restore the body to full capacity. The key message is it takes time to get fit; this, unfortunately, can’t be done in a week or 2.
It is highly recommended that following a season, it is essential not just to stop training. Altering and adapting from what happened during the season and working with coaches or health professionals to set new and appropriate goals to hit the ground running come next season is a valuable exercise.
Written by Braedon Catchpole.