M2 Minute: Off-season training for high school athletes

Another winter sports season is upon us, but just because the season has ended for our fall athletes doesn’t mean the training should too.

It’s recommended for an athlete to take a short break physically and mentally after a long season. But keep in mind that there is a difference between taking a break and becoming a couch potato.

Maintaining proper nutrition and continuing to get a good amount of physical activity are important during the off-season.

Athletes should set goals for themselves during this down time and come up with a plan to meet them. Commitment is important when it comes to meeting goals whether they are to increase speed, build muscle mass, decrease fat, or improve performance.

Come up with a plan on how you are going to meet these goals, break it down, and work on little steps to improve your big game.

We call this “training the weakness”.

For the first few weeks of your off-season participate in fun, unstructured activities such as hiking, biking, rock climbing, swimming, ice-skating, jogging or snowshoeing. This is a time of playing and hanging with friends while being active, not a time for hard-core training.

About eight to ten weeks before your next season begins start training regularly by running, lifting weights and practicing your game daily. This is a good time to work on your goals that were set at the end of your last season.

Work on interval training by quickly accelerating and decelerating. When lifting, using heavier weights with fewer repetitions is good strategy for building strength.

But keep in mind that strong doesn’t mean bulky. Extra bulk doesn’t always mean you will be better at your sport. Flexibility is an often overlooked physical advantage by high school athletes, so stretching is always important before and after each training session.

And let’s not forget the importance of nutrition while on break.

Continue to stay away from greasy, fatty, fried foods and continue to focus on healthier alternatives that our bodies need, such as fruits, vegetables, meats and carbohydrates — all with moderation.

There is no such thing as junk food if consumed in moderation, but eating an entire bag of chips contradicts the definition of the word moderate.

Stay away from empty calories such as sugary sodas, smoothies or blended coffee drinks. We only need to consume the amount of calories our bodies are using.

If we are not training hard, there is no need to eat like we are. This will only result in unwanted weight gain.

So snack less, maintain proper portion control and don’t go over-board at a meal.

And don’t forget that when we are not training as hard, but staying physically active, our bodies continue to require water, while the carbohydrate demands are not as high.

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