Saroj Gurung, Sports therapist based in UK
Preseason and competitive season training is typically are the domain of the coach but the offseason is largely the player’s responsibility. What you do in off season can have a big impact the next season.
Football players cover average of 10-12 km in a game (about 6 miles) and the game is 80-90 minutes of continuous activity. 10-12km/ 80-90 min = average pace of ~7km/hr (roughly 13 miles pace).
Thus, if you have worked hard to build up your strength and fitness level over the season. Remember, maintaining 50-60% of your peak fitness level takes less effort than starting from scratch. So, during off season it is really important for players to maintain the fitness level.
Before we can start talking about how and why is off season training important. Let’s start with the definition of off season. The off season is the period where the players are not competitively participating in their sport.
During the off season there are players that go out there and continue to train in smart way for the next season where they go through the motions and work out once in awhile in attempt to maintain their strength and fitness and there are other players that during off season they suddenly realise that how out of shape they have become and find themselves struggling to catch up or where they need to be.
This is where the quote “There are types of people in this world that, those who makes it happen, those who want things happen, and those who wonder what happened” fits.
Off season is arguably the most important time for an athlete to focus on maintaining training and preparing the body for the next season.
Research shows that the goal of the off season include:
● Providing a base level of conditioning.
● Preparing the body for more intense training.
● Combating muscles imbalances to reduce risk of injuries.
During time in season the body experience very repetitive movements and some muscles are worked more that other due to the nature of sports we engage in. So during the off season players can focus on increasing strength and mobility in the other muscles and plane of movements which does not always get enough attention which can result in injuries.
Endurance phase (Aerobic)
The conditioning work done to the aerobic system in the off-season provides the base for the higher-intensity demands to come in the pre-season and competitive seasons. The improvement of general strength creates the potential to sprint faster, jump higher and throw harder during the competitive season. You simply cannot build these qualities in the middle of competitive season so, you must build these qualities in the off-season so they can be expressed during the competitive season.
Regardless of the sport, a well-conditioned aerobic system is essential. The well-conditioned aerobic system will benefit the football players. Football players need their aerobic system (energy with oxygen) to replenish the anaerobic system (energy without oxygen) that allow them to perform bursts of high-intensity work intervals. The aerobic system is responsible to replenishing the fuel for anaerobic energy system.
For example in footballers aerobic system allow them to perform bursts of high-intensity work intervals, which can be a massive advantage for the players late in the game during competitive season.
Improve General strength
When the players are working on strength training, the focus should be on movement patterns rather than the specific muscles such as squatting, core stability, hip hinging etc which can be done with body weight, free weights and resistance bands and can be done at home. Building this solid foundation of strength during off season is followed by learning to express during preseason and fully expressing during competitive season. The key message here is that improve general strength during off season and apply it during preseason and competitive season.
Clean Up movement patterns
The final goal of off season is to clean up movement patterns. Make sure that you can absorb the force correctly and develop good posture. We spend most of the time sitting on the computer, texting on the phone which can lead to bad posture which can lead to injuries.
Similarly whilst working at the gym make sure you focus on your technique than the weights. There is a saying that “It does not matter how much you lift it’s about how you lift it.” The worse case scenario is that training and competing in bad posture can lead to injuries such as stress fracture in the lower back and shoulder injuries. So it is really important to develop good posture and clean up movement patterns during off season which can minimise the risk of injury during preseason and competitive season.