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5 Off-Season Training Mistakes Holding Back High School Athletes

Coaches know that off-season training is just as important as the training and practice schedules their high school teams endure leading up to the big games. However, many high school coaches may be unwittingly sabotaging their athletes by utilizing these common mistakes when it comes to planning their off-season training routines.

Relying on college or NFL level training methods to help your athletes

It's natural to assume that taking training regimens from the pros and incorporating them into your high school program will naturally push your students further and make them better athletes, unfortunately, this simply isn't true. To simplify the issue: would you hand your 10-year-old a book on applied physics because they want to build a better bike ramp? Unless, your pre-teen is Doogie Howser, probably not.

NFL athletes are a completely different class of athlete, and much of that is thanks to genetics. Professional players who have been hitting the field for years are going to work on different things than teenagers. Focus on training YOUR students at their specific level and encouraging improvement. The best trainers and coaches are able to pinpoint weaknesses and strengths in order to guide an athletes training program.

Not focusing on sleep and healthy eating

You're dealing with teenagers, many of whom like to stay up late and binge on pizza and potato chips. During the off-season it is easy for athletes to let eating and sleeping habits slide. Encourage your students to indulge in moderation so that it's easier for them to reach peak performance when competing season gets closer. If they're cramming in extra cardio or workout routines and not getting enough sleep, their performance will suffer.

Relying solely on weightlifting for strength training

Getting bigger and stronger will help all athletes, but training student-athletes like weightlifters isn't going to build you a more solid team. Traditional weight lifting programs can be effective - but not on their own. Weightlifting focuses on type 2a and type2b muscle fibers.

These types of muscle fibers fatigue quickly but they grow faster. Athletes that want to do more than just build bulk, need a more balanced workout plan that focuses on type 1 muscle fibers, which are endurance based and resistant to fatigue.

Not Focusing on “sport-specific” training

With different sports, you work different muscles and thus need to condition for those specific movements. To train a football athlete the same as a basketball athlete would be a mistake. Strength and agility in one sport do not translate to strength and agility in another.

Pro basketball trainer, Alan Stein trains the games biggest athletes during the off-season. His trick? Explosiveness. He uses sport-specific drills to improve his athlete's explosive power. And it works.

Forgetting to rest and recover

Off-season training is important - necessary even, but to not allow rest is a big mistake. Every athlete has muscle imbalances or joint alignment issues that need to be repaired and mended during the off-season. Both the muscles and mind of an athlete need rest. Recovery is something that is often left out of training programs but is incredibly important. It lessens the risk of injury and allows athletes to maintain their physical capabilities developed during the season.

This is where training smart comes in. Instead of pushing weight lifting and strength or increasing cardio conditioning, train differently. Many coaches make the mistake of assuming that more intense training and more hours in the gym correlates to improved athletic performance. Which could not be further from the truth. During the off-season is when it’s time to get creative with your training program because more of the same thing will do more harm than good.