For most football athletes, the off-season is one of the hardest parts of the year to deal with. Lack of structured training and the chance to take a much needed break can discourage them from keeping up with a regular training schedule. Many risk to fall behind, eventually having to start from scratch only a few months later.
The off-season also holds plenty of opportunities, though. Among the others, it gives footballers and other athletes the chance to work on their weaknesses. If you're serious about improving your performance on the field, you should start focusing on specific areas way ahead of the competition!
Here are my top 3 Off-Season Training Tips that I want to share with you! Stick with me and you’ll be back at peak performance in no time!
#1 - Improve Dynamic Mobility and Stability
The ability to move a joint through a full range of motion without restriction is vital to any football athlete. The lack of mobility in certain areas may lead to potential injuries that can keep you away from the football field for much of pre-season. Even though you are not actively playing during the off-season, you should still ensure that these capabilities are retained to ensure you stay injury free.
When you can’t safely assume certain positions, you are automatically putting your muscles and joint at risk. Your performance mainly depends on your basic fundamental movement skills, as well as your familiarity with certain kinds of movements. Constant training becomes your best ally and the only path towards success that you can follow.
The next time you hit the gym, try to focus on more joint-specific exercises. Flex and relax your joints while you attempt to cover their full range. Don’t forget that maintaining the highest possible degree of control is still your top priority.
Dedicate the right amount of time to each group of muscles and to all parts of your body and you will harvest the results of your work when the next season kicks in! Once your body has been fine-tuned and your movement quality is regained, you will stay healthy and be able to recover much faster than before.
#2 - Get Stronger
Body mass is somewhat of a curious beast. The fibers that cover your skeleton will slowly grow weaker whenever you stop exercising them regularly. Now that the football field is off-limits to you, it’s imperative to channel your energy towards targeted exercises and movements in the weight room that’s going to build a solid strength foundation.
Remember that your focus should still be on strengthening the fundamental movement patterns, not single muscle groups. When your final objective is to maximise the results of your effort, adopting a customised training program might be in order. Two to three full body-strength sessions should suffice to keep you strong, but it’s imperative that the exercises are taught and executed correctly.
The right training plan will not only help build total body strength but help you strengthen your connective tissue and your tendons, vital for reducing the risk of injury. Stronger muscles also act as a sort of body armor, shielding whatever lies behind them. No matter how nasty it is, a bruise will always hurt less than a broken bone. Remember to address your weaknesses: target those areas of your body that are more prone to injury.
#3 Stay In Shape
I’m a big believer in off-season conditioning. It’s a great opportunity for players to build up their work capacity by incorporating conditioning methods targeting the aerobic system. These training methods will help your body recover from the competitive season whilst building a strong aerobic foundation for the start of pre-season, so you can get a head-start on your competition.
If you start pre-season without having performed a single running session over the off-season (and unfortunately so many athletes do), you’re setting yourself up for failure. You’re at a greater risk of injury, and you’ll have to play catch-up over the rest of your competition. Your fitness levels will have fallen by the wayside, and you’ll struggle to realise your full potential on the field.
Over-reliance on high intensity training techniques in the early preparatory phases of off-season can have undesirable ramifications for a football athlete, especially if they haven’t first built a strong foundation to sustain their higher intensity activities. If you don’t know what to start with, the Tempo Interval method is a great way to build some solid aerobic foundations before you move onto more intense conditioning methods when pre-season begins.
While the football fields might be deserted now, things are going to get back to normal in only a couple of months. Your body won’t take kindly to your choice to stop exercising altogether, which is why you should still try to be as active as you humanly can.
Remember this: it’s easier to stay in shape than it is to get in shape!