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From Dan's Desk: Is in-season training important for athletes?

Updated: Sep 21, 2023

Training for sports has come a long way in the United States in the past few decades, where training camps and preseason games were used to get the players into shape for the season.

Looking for the competitive edge and seeing what many Soviet and Eastern European countries were doing at the time of their dominance in world athletics, off-season training began to take shape across several sports here in the U.S.

Today, I don’t believe there’s any debate about the importance of off-season training. We see it across most sports and at various levels. There are even youth teams with players under 10 years old doing off-season workouts. They’re mandatory, too.

However, it is my opinion that much is still to be desired once the season starts. There are still a lot of coaches out there who think that just because the season started, the training should stop. Training should certainly take a back seat, as the demands of the sport can take its toll and the whole goal is to be prepared and ready to play the sport and not train in a gym all season.

Even pro golfers are championing the benefits of training in-season these days.

This doesn’t mean that training should cease immediately at the start of the season, though. The sport itself isn’t sufficient to maintain most physical qualities. Off-season training is about building the base that will enhance your athletic qualities in-season. If training stops at the beginning of the season, that hard-earned base will begin to slowly deteriorate throughout the competitive season, no matter how many practices, games, or competitions happen.

There are many benefits to continuing to train throughout the playing season. Some of these are:

- Maintain or build off the progress made during the offseason

- Perform at a higher level throughout the competitive season

- enhance recovery between games and practices

- reduce injury risk

- start the next offseason at a higher level.

The sports demands take up much of the time, and rightfully so. There isn’t a lot of time to focus on continuing to progress on the efforts made during the offseason and that’s fine. Like I said earlier, athletes are there to play their sport. You can’t work on everything in season. Sport takes up too much time and energy and time should be allotted for recovery as well. A mentor of mine, the great Dan Pfaff, is famous for saying that the focus for in-season training should be to build on strengths and nudge the weaknesses.

Every sport is different and can be different depending on the level, and each player’s position or role on the team. The basketball player who doesn’t see a lot of playing time can get more training throughout the week than the star player who plays a ton of minutes each game. A baseball pitcher will have more time to train than the shortstop who might play every game.

Something is better than nothing. Even if you get one or two solid training sessions per month, that is better than not doing anything. There is always an opportunity to progress and get even better during the season if you’re doing things correctly.

One more thing

If you're an athlete or parent and need some guidance on where or how in-season training can fit into your schedule, we'd love to help! Shoot us a message below or reach out via our website right here!

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