That is what your low season coaching and restoration program ought to seem like

This is sponsored content. M&F does not endorse the sites or products listed in this article.

The off-season is important for athletes as it is essential to take a break from intense training and allow the body to rest and properly recover. If you're actively involved in a seasonal activity, you're all too familiar with how drained your body can feel when the season finally ends. From opening day to your last game, choose to play through those pesky little bumps and bruises, as well as tweaks and pops, with minimal downtime.

Off-season, it's time for the body to sink into much-needed active recovery, getting adequate rest while allowing a customized, low-impact exercise routine to be implemented.

While the athlete is still training in the off-season, their personalized training program sees the intensity of training dropping while other training methods, such as mobility and flexibility work, increase. And while off-season training is still in motion, it's a fantastic time to work on weak areas, fix imbalances and make overall improvements through individualized training and recovery methods.

Here, three athletic coaches offer their best advice on how to succeed in the off-season, so you can bring the best version of your athletic self to the field next season.

A look at off-season training

Off-season training allows you to get better, stronger, and faster when done properly. "Off-season training should be low impact and give athletes an opportunity to improve their aerobic conditioning and refine aspects of their strength and flexibility work," says Matthew West, assistant cross country coach, NASM personal trainer, FRC mobility specialist, and Owner of www.westmovez.com. During the off-season, "mobility and strength training can increase, intense anaerobic training can be limited, and athletes can spend time working on limiting factors that may have given them problems during the season." He says.

In the off-season, West likes to let his athletes spend more time rebuilding a sturdier engine while stocking up on all the key power buckets (push, pull, pivot, crouch, twist, counter-twist, etc.) while placing additional focus on shared mobility work.

However, remember that although every athlete (regardless of sport) actively rests during the off-season, their training programs should be based on their individual situation such as sport, goals, past injuries and weaknesses.

Active Recovery: The balance between recovery and staying fit

While recovery is important for everyone, for an athlete who wants to grow in their sport, break their best, and become the best athletic version of themselves, prioritizing off-season conditioning training is important. Although rest is part of the program, "recovery has to be an active process," says West.

Recovery is not essentially about slowing down and becoming immobile. It means training at a lower intensity than during the season. “Zone 2 conditioning work is the perfect recovery tool in my opinion. I like to have athletes perform different modalities while staying in a low effort zone," says West.

One example, West says, is to move in multiple planes of motion during your warm-up and cool-down, and then use rowing machines, air-dyne bikes, medicine balls, and explore ranges of motion that may have been neglected during the season.

An athlete's off-season program should be designed by an athletic trainer to ensure that their needs are met and that the athlete gets the most out of the off-season without overdoing it.

Home recovery tools

Today there are useful recovery tools that can be used at home to speed up the healing process and prevent injury. Terrance Miller, a former high school football coach and former running back at rtheastern State University, recommends athletes invest in a foam roller and use it regularly. Found in most gyms these days, this tool helps break up tight fascia and loosen muscles, increasing flexibility which can lead to better athletic performance and help prevent injuries. "A massage gun and heating pad are also beneficial for your at-home recovery," says Miller.

In addition to a foam roller, West suggests using active recovery tools, a lightweight medicine ball, a yoga block for stretching and mobility exercises. This can be a great way to keep the body flexible and strong.

Proper hydration (grab a Gatorade)

gatorade.com

As always, it is almost impossible to perform at your best without adequate hydration. "When an athlete is even 1 percent dehydrated, performance decreases," said Michael Wittig, ISSA CPT, sports performance specialist and nine-time Natural Pro Bodybuilding Champion. And that also applies to the off-season.

"Hydration is crucial for maximum performance," explains Wittig. "The athlete should strive to stay hydrated before, during and after exercise." He recommends. So, grab your Gatorade and your water bottle because your performance depends on it.

"In general, an athlete should drink 6 to 15 ounces of fluid every 12 to 15 minutes," says Wittig, and post-workout, Wittig recommends an athlete drink 16 ounces for every pound of weight lost during the activity. "When the athlete is exposed to extreme temperatures and high humidity, it's also important to replace lost electrolytes," he says.

"Athletes can drink a sports drink like Gatorade to stay hydrated and replenish carbohydrates and electrolytes," says Wittig. Investing in buying Gatorade in bulk will ensure you never run out of fluids.

Wittig's off-season training bans

  • Don't ignore off-season training and recovery: "It's easy for younger athletes to ignore recovery practices," Wittig says, but if you're aiming for a long career, it would be encouraged to start developing good recovery habits now. "As athletes age, recovery becomes even more important and encouraging good habits to be formed at a young age to reduce injury rates later in life," Wittig says, and the key to maximum recovery during the off-season for any athlete " lies in recovery methods incorporating all aspects of life, including exercise form, exercise programming and periodization, diet, hydration, and sleep habits.”
  • Don't get "overtrained": This is different than just training too hard for a long period of time, but also allowing all of life's other "stressors" to accumulate (environmental, psychological, physiological and anatomical). Regular offloads can help prevent overtraining, but also make efforts to reduce stress in your life from other sources. Overtraining can lead to injury.
  • Do not allow yourself to fall asleep: Sleep is critical to recovery and keeps natural growth hormone levels optimal. Aim for between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, and work to develop a good evening routine that will help you maximize sleep.
  • Don't ignore alternative recovery modalities: such as chiropractic, deep tissue massage, foam rollers, hot/cold baths, cryotherapy and other methods.
  • t “working through the pain”: If an athlete is experiencing unnatural pain, stop this movement. If the pain persists, go away for the day and let it heal.
  • Never train with sloppy form and poor technique: Pay attention to each movement and recognize the purpose of that movement. When athletes start performing the movements and not focusing on the task at hand, the form can slip and cause injury.

Remember, “When an athlete's off-season training is properly programmed and proper attention is paid to recovery methods, strength and overall performance should increase for the following competitive season. says Wittig.

This is sponsored content. M&F does not endorse the sites or products listed in this article.
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