Last week’s Super Bowl marked the end of another football season, ushering in the long offseason. While there are no football games to watch, it means a long break for players from a physically and psychologically demanding job.
It may be difficult to feel bad for highly paid athletes but injuries, stress, and travel take a lot out of a person, regardless of the job or salary. Choices people make during their offseason will affect their upcoming season.
Rest and Relaxation
The offseason is the perfect time to take a break. Temporarily removing yourself from sports and resting, even if it is only for a week or two, will have positive effects on your body and mind.
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Rest and relaxation gives your body a chance to heal. Even if you did not suffer from an injury your body still needs time to heal. A long season will break down the body. In order to be ready for the next season, your muscles and tendons need rest.
Rest and relaxation also gives your mind a chance to reboot. Practicing for long hours and playing a lot of games chips away at the ability to focus and stay motivated. The tougher the season, the harder it becomes to stay mentally sharpWhen the season ends, time away will reduce stress and allow an athlete to return refreshed for a new season.
Have Fun Cross-Training
Rest and relaxation do not mean complete inactivity. Active rest, or easy and non-competitive physical activity, will help you reap the benefits of resting without losing cardiorespiratory fitness. Cross-training is a way to incorporate active rest in a fun, engaging way.
The key is to pick an activity you enjoy. It is easy to just go to the gym during the offseason. Not everyone finds, however, the gym a fun and motivating environment.Find an activity you can look forward to everyday.
The activity should also be non-competitive. This is not because competition is bad or will harm you. Instead, it is to help give your brain a break. Many athletes are hyper-competitive, and too much competition over a long period of time can lead to mental and emotional fatigue – and if the fatigue is left untouched, it can cause burnout. If your active rest is too competitive during the offseason then you are not giving yourself a break from the mental stress of competition.
Reflect and Refocus
The offseason is also a time to reflect. Take time to think about the past season. What went well? What do you want to improve? These questions can be answered independently and/or by consulting with others. Answers to these debriefing questions will help athletes process the good and bad things that happened during the season. Reflecting is incredibly helpful at helping athletes learn lessons from the previous seasons.
Debriefing is only half the battle, athletes also have to take time to refocus for the next season. Taking the lessons learned from debriefing, athletes can then set visions and make goals for the upcoming season.
By taking advantage of the offseason, athletes will approach the new season refreshed, renewed, and ready to perform.
Have a question?
Do you have a question about how to improve your athletic performance? Dr. David Schary invites questions or comments from any athlete, coach, or parent. Email any question or comment to firstname.lastname@example.org.