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Now that the season is over what’s next?

Most people are happiest when they are honing a skill or developing a new talent or achieving a long awaited goal. Setting goals, no matter how big or small is the essence of living a fulfilling life and measuring one’s achievements in our personal, professional and sporting life.

The offseason for any sports person is a great time to reflect on the goals you have set. Whether you have achieved what you planned and if not,  work harder to achieving what you initially set out to achieve. No matter what the goals many athletes and sportspeople forget to add something as simple as rest into their off-season game plan.

Firstly, work out what you need before the first day of the pre-season practice. Before you put on your team jersey and hit the field, aim to be in the peak of fitness, physically, mentally and emotionally.

Boxing in a ring
Woman in boxing gear

As you prepare yourself to achieve those goals—both your individual goals and the goals of the team—know that there are five specific areas on which you should focus to get the most out of your offseason downtime.

“Set your goals high and don’t stop until you get there”- Bo Jackson

#1. Rest

man laying on the ground in a yellow shirt and black pants

One of the most important things any athlete can do in the off season is REST believe it or not. Not to be confused with sleep, rest is an active, conscious effort to do nothing. That’s right: nothing. (Doing nothing is actually really important; so important, in fact, that there is a TED Talk on the subject.) Many professional sportspeople take one to two weeks off to do nothing before they undertake some other activity to help in the pursuit of resting after a gruelling season.

You may find it difficult to shut down after your season but it is healthy; your body and mind will thank you for it. During your season your body and mind have been through a lot. Practices, drills, meetings, reviews; wins, losses, emotional ups and downs; and the list goes on. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, give yourself a break. When it’s time to return to the field or court you’re ready to attack it with the same level of energy that you need to perform  at your best.

In your downtime you have an overabundance of time that you can put to good use. Think about all of the things and activities that you have always wanted to do but never had the time to. Yoga is a great way to stay active and it’s a great recovery exercise, it’s a fun way I stay active, but it’s also a great recovery exercise. Other activities you could consider is kayaking, hiking, fishing or a morning row should keep you in the exercising mindset. Really any thing that keeps you moving but has low stress on the mind and body, will help you to rest and re-cooperate.

WORKING DAILY, WITH GOALS IN MIND WILL MAKE ALL THE DIFERENCE WHEN PUSH COMES TO SHOVE

#2. Train your Brain

Training your brain is no different to training your body in the gym or with a personal trainer. It’s now time to work on your mental game and set some goals in managing the ups and downs of the on-season that is soon to come around.

Mornings are a good time to take 10-20 minutes  to meditate. Practice proper breathing, or  improve your visualization skills, which you can put in place when needed next season.

#3 Prepare your body

Preparation can mean different things for each athlete. For some it’s building strength in the weight room, for others it’s getting leaner or doing extra rehab on a shoulder or knee so it will be less likely to reinjure during the season.

Whatever “preparation” means to you, do it by making specific, SMART goals and attacking them with fervour.

Off-season! Bring it on! Bump up the intensity! Off-season is about gaining strength and mass. Gains made during this period should be maintained throughout the on-season with a slower progression of strength building and refining of skill sets

Know exactly what you’re working toward and prepare yourself physically to help your team to the best of your ability when it comes time for season to begin.

Just to revisit the structure of SMART goals

S = Specific. The goal should have a clear, highly-specific endpoint. If your goal is too vague, it won’t be SMART.

M = Measurable. You need to be able to accurately track your progress, so you can judge when a goal will be met.

A = Attainable. Of course, setting a goal that’s too ambitious will see you struggle to achieve it. This will sap at your motivation, both now and in the future.

R = Relevant. The goal you pick should be pertinent to your chosen field, or should benefit you directly.

T = Time-Bound. Finally, setting a timeframe for your goal helps quantify it further, and helps keep your focus on track.

#4. Study your Craft

Watch films, videos and DVD. Anything that you can watch of your previous seasons and games, time to study not only your performance but that of your team and other players. In particular look for a higher level player and analyse how they play, move and interact with their own team members. To gain an insight into their playing.

 Read a book. Reading books, journals and in particular biographies, can give you a clearer insight into the mind of other successful athletes,  how they physically prepare but also how they mentally get their edge.

At times we can get caught up in our thoughts about our own ability. Reading about their emotions, feelings, their challenges and, the ups and downs of other like-minded athletes can give you clarity about your own ability.

Understanding their journey can help you create and implement plans you may need to include in your pre-season action plans.

#5. Connect with your Friends and Team Mates

During the season you may see a lot of your team mates on and off the field or on the court. That’s not the same as building a friendship or mateship away from the locker rooms, meetings or practice sessions.

Outside of Covid times take in a movie, a concert, or have a coffee at an outdoor cafe and talk about life and family anything but sport.

Camaraderie is a word not used in these times but like the military it doesn’t only help to win games of sport, during times of war it can save lives. Not everyone in the team will get on or have things in common, don’t be fooled. Most people including your team mates like to be part of a tribe.

Take the time in the off-season to get to know your tribe.

When your preparation for the on-season is underway you might like to take on an online training class, get the team together for a group fitness session or if you need that special one on one training engage the services of a personal trainer.

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