Sean Van Staden
Columnist
4 minute read
14 Nov 2015
12:08 pm

The seasonal break is no time to rest up

Sean Van Staden

It is a very important time of year for amateur athletes or athletes who are on a seasonal break.

Sean van Staden

You have put in a good solid year of working hard and now you are in a mindset of deserving that cheesecake, those potato chips and beer, and you deserve to kick back and vegetate while watching the entire six-part series of Game of Thrones.

This is not the time now, or ever, to become a slob. What you deserve is to get your butt back in the gym and start working on your development for the 2016 season. If you have no hopes or goals for your sport, then by all means, hug the remote. But if you are looking to improve yourself, you have a short window period to do so.

The year is broken up into four quadrants, or three-month bouts, where you need to work on improving your strength, power and skills. You are not competing in any matches which means that you should be pushing harder in the gym with Olympic movements and plyometrics (repeated rapid stretching).

That means the Romanian deadlift, the single leg squat, clean and jerk, the snatch, clean and press, squat to name a few. Olympic movements are the fastest and hardest way to building and getting results fast. The reason why you will focus more on strength and power training in the off-season is because it is very taxing on your body, and recovery from one training session takes longer.

If you train hard and push heavy during your game season and are then required to put in a training session or play a match, your muscles have not had enough time to recover and your risk of injury goes through the roof. Three months is not a long time and that is why this is a critical time of year for your development.

You cannot get this time back, so best you get off the couch and head for the gym. If you are not entirely sure what to do in the gym for your sport, frame and development, my suggestion is to hire a professional sports scientist in your area and ask him or her to design a custom programme for you. They will provide you with a road map which you will be thankful for in the season to come.

The next most important area you need to focus on is skills development. It is also probably a good idea to get a sports science movement assessment and find out what your weaknesses are. By knowing your weaknesses, you can start conquering them and turning them into assets. You need to see the development of skills as a multi-layered cake.

It is not about googling the most outrageous drills or exercises. Start off by first learning the technique of the movement. Let’s take speed and agility for example. By learning to run on the balls of your feet, you will naturally become quicker and faster.

Agility on the other hand, can really improve your game and take it to another level by learning to have lower centre of gravity, learning to cut better and learning to always be in “state of readiness”. By improving the technique of just these two areas, you will have greater game speed, have more endurance, sharpened reaction time, be more efficient and most importantly, a reduced risk of injury.

Once your technique is sound, then it is time for progressive and more challenging drills. The minute your technique becomes poor during the drill or excercises, then you slow it down until you get it right. The longevity of your sporting career depends on sound mechanics. The third element to the off-season is to take up swimming.

This is an athlete’s best friend because it provides the perfect cross-training or complementary aerobic fitness exercise for your sport. It helps build stronger lungs, it gives you a total body workout and it provides low impact resistance training for your muscles. Swimming is an absolute must, right throughout the year.

To recap on your game plan for this off-season period; focus on function strength and power training in the gym, learn new skills and techniques, build good technique with sports-specific drills and maintain your fitness and conditioning with swimming.

Advanced Sports Performance is running a three-day Speed, Agility and Quickness Clinic for athletes in Jozi in the December holidays. If you would like to win one of the spots valued at R1 000 each, simply tweet me, “I would love to attend ASP SAQ Clinic” to @SeanVStaden.