An athlete has different phases he/she might go through during the athletic year. For example, when one is actually in the middle of their season playing their sport, this period is called the In-Season.
Using that example, many of you are probably going to go, “Well DUH!” But, let’s play this out so that I can be sure we are on the same page.
If the athlete is currently playing the sport, then we call that In-Season. Once the season ends and if she is not going into a sport, then she has gone into the Off-Season. At some point, the Off-Season will turn into the Pre-Season.
The Pre-Season usually starts when practice officially begins. Then once your first game starts, you are back into the In-Season and the cycle repeats itself.
What we want to talk about is the little period between the In-Season and the Off-Season. This period is called your Transitional Period. It doesn’t just have to be between those two seasons either. Your Transitional Period can also be when one sport ends and the other begins.
There are several times these Transitional Periods can happen, so lets discuss each one and see how the athlete should handle them.
- When I was in high school, our football teams would go deep into the playoffs. Whenever we finished up our season, basketball had usually been going for a few weeks with the players that had not played football. Our Transition Period was usually the weekend and maybe an extra day before we had to go to basketball practice. Not the ideal Transition Period for an athlete, but unfortunately that was a product of the situation.
- Most teams don’t make the playoffs and get done with their season on time. They might have a week or two before the Pre-Season begins for the next sport. Or if you are a younger athlete, you might have close to a month off. If you do have the luxury to have this amount of time before your season starts, your Transition Period could be as long as a week.
If that is the case, then your Transition Period could be doing nothing, but relaxing for 3 or 4 days. Depending on how long you have been playing could affect the length of your Transition Period. After that, you could start doing some training or practicing to get ready for your Pre-Season which should be coming up relatively soon.
- Now let’s say you get done with your fall sport, but don’t play until your spring sport starts in March. You still have a Transition Period, but it is now between the end of In-Season and before the Off-Season begins. Now the Transition Period should be 4-7 days of doing nothing. Then it could be another week of active recovery. Maybe you play some pickup games or do swimming. Basically, something that doesn’t relate to the sport you play, but gets that heartrate up.
After that, you can start your Off-Season workouts to get prepared for the next season. Now, if you have an athlete that is eager to get into the Off-Season training, I definitely recommend at least 3-4 days of doing nothing. Then, you could probably just go ahead and start your Off-Season workouts at the beginning of your training plan.
Pay attention to these Transition Periods. It is necessary, especially for young athletes, to do these appropriately even if it is just a few days in that period so the body can decompress a bit before getting back into it.
Photo courtesy of Mike Dupris on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/116153846@N06/