Staying Fit in the “Off” Season
With spring soccer season winding down and summer try-outs approaching, some of your coaches may give you a few weeks off. Although you may be “off” from scheduled practices and events, an athlete is never truly “off.” While it is SO IMPORTANT to take days off for your body to recover from the wear and tear of the season, it is also important to know what to do during those few weeks “off” so your body isn’t in shock when you return to activity again!
In an article published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sports in 2017 titled, “The Acute:Chronic Workload ratio in relation to injury risk in professional soccer,” researchers looked at the effect of general fitness levels in relationship to injuries when there was a quick increase in intensity and volume of activity in professional soccer players. What they found was that the players who kept up with a higher intermittent aerobic capacity had lesser risk for injury when there was a higher volume and intensity of training/games presented to them (“rapid changes in workload”).
At Omaha Physical Therapy Institute, we see a ton of athletes with similar situations: the athlete takes a few weeks totally off before tryouts, lowering their aerobic capacity, and then goes to tryout and gives it their all. Their body is not prepared to be thrown back into quick, reactive movements, resulting in nagging pains, cramps, or injuries. Do not let this example happen to you! Below is a quick guide to help you navigate your time “off” from soccer.
First few days Off
Take these days completely off! Allow your body to recover from the trauma of daily practices, games, and end of the school year stress! For athletes, rest days are just as important as hard workout days. You can go for a light walk, stretch, etc.. Just keep everything nice and easy!
After you have allowed your body to fully recover, now would be a good time to do some workouts that you like at a moderate intensity! If you enjoy cycling, pilates, going on long runs, HIIT workouts, etc., do it! Get your heart rate up with a good workout at least 5 times per week at an intensity that pushes your body without upsetting your body!
- 1. Listen to your body! It will tell you when to push yourself or when to slow down a bit. As your body gets used to the intensity of the load, increase the load a bit!
- 2. This time is a GREAT time to really focus on your form with every exercise you choose to do! Get those muscles activating efficiently again!
- 3. During this phase, get some touches on the ball. Do some individual ball work, grab a partner, or use a wall and work on your touch!
The Days Leading Up to Tryouts
In the days leading up to tryouts, there should be a good combination of working hard while letting your body recover and refuel! Make these workouts more soccer specific with some changing directions, turns, game-like conditioning, and incorporate some shooting. You should definitely be spending time rehydrating, eating nutritious food, stretching, and getting your mind right before tryouts.
Focus on your breathing during the few days leading to tryouts. Take deep breaths throughout the day to help relax your body!
Remember why you love soccer and go out there to have fun, work hard, and show off your skills!
Following a timeline like this during “off” periods of sport or “off season” will help you prepare your body for the next season. Remember to take rest days, but try to get your heart rate up as often as you can. Keep your body in shape, your muscles firing, your mind right, and your diet healthy. And always, drink A LOT of water!! Your body will thank you after tryouts!
Your Comeback Story Starts Here!