Off-season training for youth athletes has finally been recognized for the value it can provide an individual on the field. Adding a few inches to your vertical, decreasing 40 yard dash times, and increasing maximal strength are all examples of benefits that many athletes seek out during the off-season. This is a great first step to address the youth sport injury epidemic that has taken over all sports including knee injuries for soccer players, elbow and shoulder injuries for baseball players, and concussions for football players. With that said, one additional strategy that is simple to implement and incredibly impactful is the widespread implementation of in-season training.
In-season training is simply the continuation during the season of physical preparation training such as speed, agility, strength, and power methods that would typically be applied in the off-season to enhance performance, health, and well-being. Athletes should seek out a program that consists of one to three days of strength, power, and speed work that has an emphasis on qualities that are not addressed in their sport. The program should be simple and intense, but not overwhelming with regard to the amount of work that is included. Sessions should be kept short and sweet with additional focus on recovery strategies that enable the athletes to feel confident, consistent, and healthy as the season gets under way.
The most important games of the year often take place at the end of the season during playoff and championship games, so it only makes sense to maintain as many health and performance qualities as possible to increase the likelihood for longevity and high performance. Research done on professional soccer players suggests that as little as one training session each week can maintain a majority of measureable performance qualities, so anything is better than nothing (Rønnestad, Nymark, Raastad, 2011)!
Sports Performance Specialist
Acceleration Sports Performance at Naperville Yard
Rønnestad, B. R., Nymark, B. S., & Raastad, T. (2011). Effects of In-Season Strength Maintenance Training Frequency in Professional Soccer Players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 25(10),2653-2660. doi:10.1519/jsc.0b013e31822dcd96