The change of seasons in New England is always marked by the changes of the trees. The lush green leaves slowly turn to a burnt orange as they litter the ground. The days become shorter and the sun lights up the sky with its beautiful orange colors as the cold weather begins to set in. The ending of fall is also a change of seasons for sports: the turf is traded in for the court and cleats are traded in for sneakers. The squeaks of sneakers and bouncing basketballs balls begin to echo through gyms across the country. It’s time to transition from Pre-Season to In-Season.
Training has now become a year round process in the competitive world of scholastic and collegiate sports. When I played in the 80’s & 90’s there was barely any kind of training performed during your sport season - only in the Off-season and Pre-season. Oh, how that has changed in today’s competitive landscape. More student athletes are recognizing the importance of taking care of your body year round if you want to compete at a higher level. Those who don’t, are being left behind and have to play catch-up in college.
So, what is In-Season training? How does it different from Pre-Season and Off-Season training? And more importantly, should all athletes be doing it?
In-Season training is the maintenance phase of the sport you’re playing. Your goal isn’t to get stronger, but to maintain 90% of your strength, flexibility and explosiveness you gained from Off-Season and Pre-Season training. The total volume of exercises significantly decreases during this time because we don’t want muscular soreness to occur in the body, which would have adverse affects on performance.
Heavy lifting doesn’t occur during this phase and training days are now twice a week instead of 3-4 days a week. Off-Season and Pre-Season training programs contain much more volume of exercises. The goal is to build, shape, and transform the body. In-Season training is to maintain your body, so exercises are not as intense. If you played a fall sport, you should take even more time off before you start training for the winter season. Your body needs to recover from the rigors of the previous season. In the long run, a couple of weeks off before you start training again will be greatly appreciated by your body and your mind.
Recovery is a crucial part of In-Season training. The body needs to be treated well in order to perform correctly. Eight hours of sleep, staying hydrated, and eating clean are very important factors you can control to help your body perform at optimal levels during In-Season.