6 Tips to Maximise Your Off-season
If you love playing a particular sport, then the off-season really sucks. You miss the camaraderie, the competition and the post-game celebrations. Those months away from the pitch can really drag.
Here’s how to make the most of your off-season so you’re in prime fitness for your first game when the time finally comes.
No pain, no gain, right? If you’ve been using your muscles at the gym or on the sports field then you can expect to feel a little soreness. But when is it more than that? And how do you tell the difference?
1. Set goals for yourself
Review your season. How did you go? What do you hope to improve on for next season?
Setting goals helps you make good use of your off-season to create an even stronger season next year. You can’t work on everything at once though. So, choose the most significant goal and work on that one.
2. Set aside regular training times
You might start the off-season with an impressive set of goals but your motivation is likely to drop as time goes on. An extra hour in bed becomes more tempting. Your calendar fills up with other commitments. Your evenings are spent binge watching Netflix rather than bench pressing at the gym.
If your goal is to maintain or improve your fitness, you need a plan to achieve that. So, look at your schedule and plan regular training sessions each week. Book them in, just as you book in other commitments. Get down to the details of the days, times and places you’ll exercise. That makes you 2-3 times more likely to actually do it.
Visual cues help you track your progress, motivating you to keep going. Habits expert, James Clear, recommends the paperclip strategy. If your goal is to train 5 mornings a week, then get 5 paperclips and two small cups. Each time you train, move a paperclip from one cup to the other.
You’re seeing your success each time you train. It’s very encouraging.
3. Improve your strength
Because you’re not exercising as frequently or intensely during the off-season, you can push yourself harder when it comes to strength training.
Strength training has many benefits including:
- Boosting your mood
- Increasing your muscle mass
- Improving your balance and coordination
- Improving your bone density
- Burning calories.
You can maximise your strength by:
- Increasing your muscle size through high-volume workouts – high sets & reps, low to moderate weights and small rests. This type of training is characterized by high volume workouts; high sets and repetitions, low to moderate weights, and smaller rest times.
- Using those larger muscles to increase your strength by lifting heavier weights with lower reps and longer rests.
- Using your increased strength to move heavier weights more quickly and explosively through sport-specific workouts focussed on speed and efficiency with lower reps, moderate to heavy weights and middle-length rest times.
4. Practice your skills
Your sports-specific skills need ongoing practice. It might be your tennis serve, your bowling, your dribbling and passing, your handballing or your goalkicking. Keep practising.
5. Watch your diet
You’re usually less active during the off-season and that means you need to decrease your calorie intake simply to maintain your current weight. Thankfully, you’re probably less busy too, which gives you time to plan and cook healthy meals.
Depending on your training goals, you may want to use this time to change your weight, which will involve making careful changes to your diet.
To gain lean mass, try:
- Gaining no more than a kilo per week to prevent unwanted body fat
- Drink quality calories such as low-fat milk or 100% juice with each meal
- Eat every 2-3 hours
- Add calorie-packed foods like granola, avocado, olive oil and nuts to increase calories without making you feel too full.
To lose weight, try:
- Losing only 0.5-1 kilo per week to avoid losing muscle mass
- Including lean protein at every meal and snack
- Avoiding sugary drinks
- Eating regularly to prevent hunger-driven binging
- Having your biggest meal at breakfast because you can burn it off during the day, then eating less as the day goes on
- Focusing on fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole-grain carbs.
6. Treat your injuries
By the end of a season, you may have one or two lingering injuries that haven’t kept you off the pitch but haven’t fully resolved either. Now is the time to get these properly treated.
One study of semi-professional football players found that about 25% of them reported a physical complaint each week that did not stop them playing. But those non-time loss injuries made the players 3-7 times more likely to have a time-loss injury sometime soon.
So, if you’ve limped to the end of the season, see your physio now to treat those niggles and reduce the risk of a more significant injury.
Lastly, do have some fun. When the season gets into full swing again, you’re going to be busy. So enjoy the off-season and make the most of its opportunities.
How The Brisbane Spine Clinic Can Help
As sports physiotherapists, we can work with you to help you achieve your off-season goals so you can start your next season strongly.
We can diagnose and treat any underlying injuries that have been bothering you, reducing your risk of a more serious injury that keeps you off the pitch.
Please make an appointment today.
All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their own personal circumstances and seek a second opinion.