Halfway through our track season, I am more convinced than ever that whatever success you will have in your season is almost always related to what type of work you are doing in the off-season.

Yes, you have to have practice and learn plays, etc.  But, however well you personally are performing in my opinion depends on what you did during the off-season.

Why is off-season work so important?

There are many reasons to that.  Some you might think are super obvious.  Let’s take a look at what these reasons are and how they affect you accordingly.

  • Fall/Spring Seasons Are Short – Your season is really short if you are a fall or spring sport, especially the spring. Some of my younger athletes started March 4 and will be officially done May 6.  The season for these sports goes by real quick.  If you don’t enter the season in shape, by the time you do get in shape, your season could be finished.  You need to enter the season in as good a condition possible so that the body can respond appropriately to your practicing and get you fine-tined for the tournament run.
  • Preventing Injuries – I feel that most people will realize that off-season work will help reduce injuries. That being said, doing the right work is crucial.  Because the season is so short, you get the wrong injury it could knock you out for a big chunk of the season.  In my sport, track, a common injury athletes have to deal with is shin splints.  Sometimes they develop due to the increase in volume which if those areas aren’t as strong, the shin splints can manifest.  Doing the right training in the off-season can prepare your body appropriately so that when it does pick up during the season, you aren’t as susceptible to these nagging injuries.
  • Strength/Power Development – Once again, one of those “no duh” points, but it can’t be overstated how crucial this is for an athlete. There is no way you will develop this during the season.  Your energy needs to be spent elsewhere.  This is “off-season” task #1.  The time you need to spend to improve that strength could be 3 or 4 months, but if you can get it consecutively TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT.  If you enter the season at a new level of strength and power, then you can fully take advantage of the practicing that you’ll be doing to get you to a new level.  I am witnessing it right now with my track athletes.  Stronger athletes entering the season equals faster athletes setting more and more PR’s (personal records).
  • Your Practice Doesn’t Necessarily Develop Your Skill – Yes, in some practices they might do skill development, but a lot of times you are working on the strategy. Any lack of skill that you might have had needs to be worked on in the off-season.  You aren’t going to become a better shooter in basketball during basketball season.  You might get into a nice rhythm.  But, if you want to increase your shooting percentage by big points or have real tight handles, that HAS to be done in the off-season.

Keep this in mind next time your athlete is wondering what he/she has to do to crack the starting lineup.  Was the off-season training addressed properly??