The off-season is a great time to "clean house" for many athletes. The past club/high school/ college season can be long (both mentally and physically) and it is crucial to change gears over the winter to ensure that athletes stay balanced, develop technically and recharge for the spring season. So what should athletes be doing over the winter months?
Here's our QTSD© TOP 10 LIST OF THINGS ATHLETES SHOULD BE DOING THIS WINTER:
POST SEASON SELF-EVALUATION - The first step towards improvement is evaluation. Players should take time to self-evaluate where they think they are; technically, tactically, physically and mentally. Did you see improvement over the season? Did your confidence improve or drop? How did you feel about your fitness?
POST SEASON COACH EVALUATION - Speak with your coach for an outside professional evaluation. How close was your individual evaluation compared to your coach's evaluation? This can help build confidence or put a player's development in proper perspective; both of which are crucial for improvement.
INDIVIDUAL TRAINING PLAN & GOALS - What are you going to commit to in order to improve? Will you dedicate an hour a day to foot skills and juggling? Will you take time to start building strength and fitness when your muscles are not fatigued from season training and game play?
TECHNICAL TRAINING - The off season is when you have the time available to dedicate to yourself. You NEED to be working on your technical abilities so that when the pre-season starts, you are ready for team tactics and application. This means juggling, foot skills, passing & receiving, etc. This can be accomplished on your own at home (or through private/small group training).
DOWN (FUN) TIME - Being fully dedicated towards soccer improvement can take a lot of your time; schedule wise. Since the competition and training schedule slows over the winter, take time to have some fun with friends. Even the most competitive athletes need time to reset mentally :)
CROSS TRAINING - Year round athletes use the same muscle groups too often; not allowed development of the entire body. Find something you are not good at and try it this winter? Play soccer a lot? Try rock climbing, weight lifting, dodge ball, yoga or parkour. There is a lot of research showing that athletes that try new sports or cross training aspects force their minds and bodies to "reset" from the autonomy many high level athletes develop. The goal is to develop muscle confusion and reset your mental outlook to sports; not continue to break down the same muscles groups through similar high intensity sports. Be wise in the choices of winter sports you choose. There is a big difference between "cross training" and playing multiple sports.
NUTRITION EVALUATION - How did you eat last season? Can you truly say it helped or hurt your performance? Your eating is what fuels you; poor fuel equals poor performance.
GET A MASSAGE!- Massages are not just for luxury spas and vacations. Athletes put more strain on their body than the average person. Take some time and find a quality massage therapist to reset your muscles and tension. There are plenty of high quality professionals that charge less than $45 per hour for a massage :)
EDUCATE YOURSELF - Dedicate yourself to learning something NEW everyday; whether reading a book, donate time to a non-profit, analyze professional soccer matches, etc. The brain does its best work when stimulated. Hint - Binging on NetFlix does not equal learning!
EVALUATE & REPLACE WORN GEAR - Soccer gear can wear out quickly after a long season. Check your training gear (shinguards, cleats, UnderArmour) and replace what is starting to fall apart. Plus there are some AMAZING deals on Black Friday & Cyber Monday for soccer gear! **If your gear is worn, we organize a gear drive for less fortunate players every year. Shoot us an email and we can take those old cleats off your hands!**
The winter months are a great time to reset both mentally and physically. Athletes must be smart about their bodies and mind; taking time to heal, recover and learn in order to come back in the spring fresh and energized!
If you are interested in the different development options we offer soccer athletes in Columbus, Ohio, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more options!