For any athlete, competitor, race, or season there is always an end-point. Quite simply (in my eyes) if you want to become better at what you do, both physically and mentally, off-season is a must for personal growth. Summertime especially is a popular off-season for many athletes. This may not always amount to the same span of time or involve the same activities or lack of. Each individual and circumstance requires its own recovery process. But to make sure someone does not overtrain or exhaust themselves, it is also necessary. Off-season can be used as a lense into seeing what needs improving, how to build on potential, and a time to remove yourself from the exhaustion of the competitive nature and critique.
I’m sure you can think back to a time when a coach, game, individual, even a teammate completely ruined your mood or mindset. And if not yourself, someone else’s. It could have been the pressure of something they said, circumstance of the game, a critical mistake, etc. that began to eat away at you. That pressure or negative energy begins to flood into a reaction. A downward spiral of energy into the wrong places and your mind begins to build mental stress. All of these mixed feelings caused by some factor or feeling can cause you to lose interest in what actually love. That is why stepping away from something you love isn’t always a bad thing. It creates a sense of excitement and desire to get back into it when the time comes.
Consider also the last time an athlete in season rested a whole week or two (not due to injury). Consider the last time you got a full 8 hours of sleep for a week straight. Or spent a day in which you made sure to stretch every other hour. My point is off-season allows you to engage in habits or actions you may not normally think to take or have the time to. Stopping the go, go, go mentality and slowing your routine down is a key element. You allow your body to rest, heal, move through different movements, and then dive right back into action. You can still do all of that and keep up your training. Your program should not reduce in its intensity or intentions. There is no reason to deload during this time. Yes rest, but do not stop working. The program you follow should be challenging and working you towards improvement.
Maintaining a strong work ethic during this time will lead to a more successful year to come. Building on your potential in off-season is vital in preparing your body and making sure it is healthy, strong, and ready.
During summer there are often “premade” deloading weeks. Many families or individuals take the week of Fourth of July off, have a planned vacation, or end up having a few more “off” days than they had accounted for. So when push comes to shove, your training sessions should keep a challenging intensity, volume and structure. This time can be focused on developing power, explosiveness, strength, speed, mobility, you name it. Whatever skill is needed most, zone in and get it done. You are allowing your body to move away from so much repetition, for example throwing a baseball every, single, day. The body can mend itself while still getting the mobility and strength it needs so that your shoulder and body are ready again come baseball season. As time moves towards pre-season then you can begin to shift back to a more sport-specific training
Bottom line - Maintaining a strong work ethic during this time will lead to a more successful year to come. Building on your potential in off-season is vital in preparing your body and making sure it is healthy, strong, and ready. All parts of your body need to be able to work together to properly work and execute what you are working towards. Create a competition with yourself so you can be the last one standing at whatever your finish line looks like. So it’s time to ask yourself: Are you doing everything possible to be at your best performance?