You’ve just spent the last three to six months training hard and pushing your limits in the weight room. You have gotten bigger, stronger, and faster hoping your new capabilities will help you perform at a higher level for your upcoming season. So then why do so many athletes (and coaches and parents) stop strength training once their season begins?
Is it a fear of being tired or sore from a workout and not being able to perform in games? Is it a fear that it will cut into practice time? Or is it that it’s “too much” activity at one time? These are common excuses I have heard from athletes, coaches, and parents to avoid training during the season either individually or as a team.
But no matter the reason and no matter who it’s coming from, the fact is this—strength training is often the most neglected aspect of physical preparation once the season begins. Between practice and games plus school, homework, and extracurricular activities, the weight room often gets left out of the equation. Although it might seem like no big deal, an extended break from strength training can make an athlete’s performance take a total nosedive.
So why should you continue your strength training during the season?
Skipping out on the weight room for the season can have significant detrimental effects on an athlete’s strength levels. The stronger an athlete is, the more force they can produce. The more force they can produce, the faster they will run, the higher they will jump and the harder they will hit.
An athlete or team wants to be playing and feeling their best when it matters the most. Regardless of what sport you play, the most important games are going to be played at the end of your season. No one wants to be at their strongest during the first game of the season only to see their strength and speed decline just as the calendar turns to those crucial late-season games. That’s exactly what you’re setting yourself up for if you don’t perform any in-season strength training. Consider this: in the week leading up to Super Bowl LI, the New England Patriots were squatting 80% of their max. They were 20-plus weeks into the season by that point, but they knew how important their weight room work was to their continued success. For what it’s worth, the Patriots went on to win that game after overcoming a 25-point deficit.
Are you able to play? And are you durable enough to withstand the stressors of legitimately competing?A strong athlete is a durable athlete. By maintaining, and in some cases increasing, one’s strength over the course of a season, an athlete is able to withstand the demands of their sport to a higher degree. Do you want to be stuck on the bench because you’re plagued with injuries towards the end of the season when that can be limited/avoided with in-season strength training? Yes strength training while in-season is hard but to continually develop, athletes must continue to push out of their comfort zone to maintain the skills and adaptations their body has attained from training during the offseason. Injuries happen because sport specific load is greater than an athlete’s muscle strength. A lot of it is totally avoidable with proper in-season strength training.
You’ve worked hard all offseason to get stronger and more powerful, so why stop training just to have to start back all over again next offseason in a few months? Yes-you do go backwards and essentially start over again when you come back in. What was the point of the offseason to begin with then? If you’re constantly taking one step forward and two steps back in the weight room, you will never come remotely close to realizing your full athletic potential.
For long-term athletic development, strength training while in season is incredibly important. It’s not just about if you have gotten better week to week or month to month. As a coach I also want you to get better year to year and continue on. It’s not just about the short term. True athletic development takes time and consistency and is a marathon not a sprint. If you’re constantly missing chunks of the year it’s going to be extremely difficult for you to keep improving long term. And, as long as you are working with a good coach and doing what you should be for where you are at with your sport, you won’t be so tired/sore that you won’t be able to perform to the best of your ability during a game or even a practice. Remember, strength training is here to HELP your performance not hurt it, no matter the time of year.
Want to know how strength training is different for our athletes while they are in-season? Check back in a few weeks for part 2!
And If you are looking for a strength coach whether you’re in season or not, please email me and I would be happy to help you.