Managing The In-Season Athlete

Ninety (90%) of our CSF athletes are Middle/High School and collegiate level players. For many of these athletes practices have already begun. ??Soon their academic work loads will become a reality as well. ??Establishing a priority plan will help them take control of their multiple responsibilities while maintaining their health and fitness levels.

As our athletes prepare to enter a competitive season, it is my job as a performance coach to help address the 3 “IMPACT areas.” These are the key areas will have a biggest influence on performance both on and off the field.

IMPACT #1 Stress Management

Student athletes are often exposed to two profound stressors in their day to day lives
– the mental stress of performing in the class room, dealing with social issues (boyfriends, girlfriends, family) and possibly work commitments, ?and the physical stress of practicing & playing to win.

No big deal, right? ?Think about how much energy and focus goes into those two areas. ?Not to mention extended travel time for our premier players, ?recovery time in-between games and finding some time to be a kid and hang out with friends.

As a performance coach working with individuals or with a team, I aim to provide ?stress management? techniques and function as a liaison between parents and coaches. ??My job is to have my athletes ready to play without over-training. ?It can be a challenge when they come in for their workouts if we don’t get a feel for how their day or week has been going. ?However, we are able to make adjustments on the fly and adapt. ?Nothing is ever set in stone.

After they play, there should be a sense of urgency to recover as quickly as possible to be ready for the next competition or practice. ?Proper nutrition and sleep should be at the forefront of the recovery process. ?Decreasing high cortisol levels associated with physical and mental stress can be combatted with a consistent bout of 8 hrs of sleep and a healthy diet including proper pre and post nutrition intervention. ?Crushing pizza for lunch everyday might not be the best option.

Pay attention to your sleep and if you need guidance on the nutrition side we have the resources to help. ?This will give you the best possible chance for success.

IMPACT #2 Maintain Strength

Remember this, it doesn’t matter how strong you are in the gym during the pre-season, if you are getting beat up and down the field, court or ice by mid-to-end of the season.

Think about this analogy: ??Your body’s maximal strength is equivalent to the volume of water a ceramic bowl can hold. ?The bigger your bowl, the more water it can hold or the more potential strength your body can possess. Strength training increases the size and sturdiness of your bowl.

Imagine your ?bowl? gets cracked and the water is slowly leaking out, depleting its contents to zero. ?It’s potential is compromised. Similarly your strength gains can shrink away throughout the course of the season with over-training, injuries, lack of rest, poor nutrition. ?Taking care of your body properly while in-season will help maintain the integrity of your strength gains made during your pre-season training.

Spending 20 minutes with 3-4 core lifts, ?1-2 days per week, during the season can prevent or repair cracks in your foundation!

This is why strength training year-round is so important. ?You can continue to get stronger as the season progresses versus depleting your resources. ??A few weeks of running and jumping over the summer is not going to cut it. ?You’re selling yourself short and not maximizing your potential.

IMPACT #3 – Rehab and Return to Play

I work closely with physical therapists, athletic trainers and physicians to get athletes back to competition as quickly and safely as possible.

If someone gets hurt, it takes a smart plan and joint effort to allow the medical & rehab staff to attend to the injury while we can focus on keeping strength and power from diminishing in other areas.

If an athlete is out for an extended period of time, conditioning levels can diminish quickly. ?If the athlete started the season in poor condition, this is often a wake up call to begin a more focused routine and build their base.

A true recipe for disaster: an athlete is not orthopedically prepared to return to competition and their conditioning levels are not up to par. ?This greatly increases the likelihood of getting injured again.

The process that should be followed after injury is this:

Physician >> Physical Therapist / Athletic Trainer >> ?Performance Coach >> Competition.

Collegiate and professional athletes don’t go right from the physician to the field and neither should middle and high school athletes.

Managing in-season athletes is not an easy task given the ever-changing landscape of sports, academics, social involvement, sleep & nutrition and athletic performance training.

Taking time to focus on the ?3 IMPACT? area of stress management, strength maintenance and return-to-play can give you and your team the best chance for success.

Good Luck!

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