Chalk Talk: Three common training pitfalls to avoid in the offseason
Many young athletes lack understanding of what offseason training should look like.
This period must be planned and executed systematically for the most effective results and three things usually happen: overtraining, undertraining, lack of focus.
Many young hockey players can get carried away with the concept that “more is better.” I cannot emphasize enough that it is important to train smart. There is a delicate balance between the number of practices and workouts required to be a skilled hockey player, and overscheduling to the point of exhaustion. This balance is different for every athlete. If the number of workouts per week causes the quality of the skills required to decline, it’s time to reconsider the best training schedule. An athlete will play how they practice, so make sure to have enough rest to practice at 100 percent.
If you take nothing else away from this column, remember “quality over quantity.” Muscle growth does not happen in the weight room or on the ice. Lifting weights actually damages the muscle fiber. The muscle fiber rebuilds and repairs itself on rest days, which causes an increase in the size and strength of the fiber. Athletes who lift too frequently are at increased risk for injury as their muscles do not have appropriate time to heal.
Lack of recovery can lead to lack of motivation to train, increased injury risk, muscle and joint soreness, decreased performance/strength, poor sleep quality, restlessness and elevated heart and blood pressure. Overtraining can take months and possibly years to recover from and needs to be taken seriously. Overtraining can be avoided by developing good sleep and nutrition habits, managing stress, implementing recovery methods and regulating total volume of training.
Taking time off after the end of the season is important for the athlete to recharge physically, as well as mentally, but be careful not to rest so long and hard that it becomes a habit. You don’t want to wake up one morning and realize you completely missed offseason training because you were watching Netflix! The point of taking some time off in the postseason is so you can attack spring training with intensity, consistency and commitment.
Undertraining leads to a poorly conditioned athlete who is unprepared for the upcoming season.
Lack of focus AKA “Grass is Greener” Syndrome
Athletes sometimes fall into the trap of changing their minds about their offseason training plan. I refer to this as the “grass is greener” syndrome. They might constantly change their training programs so they can follow popular websites, bodybuilding magazines, online videos, or what their friends are doing at the local gym. Young athletes tend to be distracted by “mirror” workouts, or workouts that will allegedly make them “swole” for the beach this summer. Unfortunately, these workouts often are not specific to an athlete’s specialized needs, such as being fast or explosive.
Develop a balanced schedule to avoid overtraining, stay focused and committed to a plan and ensure you consistently work hard during the offseason.
Lauren Colizza is assistant strength and conditioning coach, Jon Eng the director of sports performance, both at 365 Performance in Monument.