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The Importance of In-Season Training

Every year millions of the smartest athletes spend significant time in the off season doing strength and conditioning programs to improve strength, body composition, power, speed, agility, flexibility and to rehab or prevent future injuries. This is a wonderful thing. However, once the season starts for many of these athletes the first thing they give up is their strength and conditioning program. Why?
Sure the schedule gets hectic and school work needs to get done. These are valid concerns. However, year after year I see so many athletes and parents fail to put training their body’s as a priority. Many will say they will just work out with the school or at a gym with their friends etc. It’s not the same thing. Properly designed programs, supervision and accountability are huge factors in determining an athletes long term success. Secondly, strength, conditioning and nutrition are not something that once it is trained and you reach a certain level of improvement you will just remain at that level. Physical training needs to be maintained or in a few short weeks most of the progress an athlete gained working their ass off in the off season will be gone. What is the use of spending so much time, energy and money to improve performance only to let it fade away 1/3 of the way in to the season and have almost zero benefit late in the season and the playoffs when you need it most?
Furthermore, once an athlete de-trains from not maintaining their progress and the season ends and begins to train again they will have to spend the first month or two just to get back to where they were before they started the season. This only leaves a short period of time to progress further. This is not an efficient way to improve performance, prevent injury and spend money.
Having been in this strength coaching game for over 25 years I have seen a lot. I have seen sports grow exponentially especially with travel teams and kids playing a single sport almost year-round. With this I have seen more injuries and to many a surprise less athleticism. Also, it now takes longer periods of training to get the same results athletes I worked with 10 years ago got in half the time. The reasons for this are many including: early specialization, young kids do not play outside as often growing up. The sit more and when they are active it is mostly in an organized fashion with some adult supervision. Nutrition today for most of the young athletes I see is atrocious as well. Because of these things, they do not develop important physical, mental, movement and social skill foundations needed for long term success that playing multiple sports and just playing outside with their friends on their own develops. To counteract this proper strength and movement training is now more important than ever.
Parents and kids will spend endless hours and money improving specific sport skills. Training skills is important. However, training their body is always an afterthought or second to everything else. Think about this. To perform and improve the skills needed to play a sport optimally takes certain levels of strength, power, flexibility, muscular/flexibility balance and coordination, proper body composition and movement training. If you do not train these physical qualities your body, the actual machine that needs to perform the sports skills will never improve to the level it can and needs to be to play at the highest level. Some people will say, “Yeah but, this guy doesn’t train, and he is awesome!” SO, what? Yes, there are genetic freaks out there in every sport and field. They are the exception, not the rule though. The fact is 99% of all athletes are NOT in this category. That means they must bust their ass harder, smarter, and be more on point with their training and nutrtion then the 1% of the freaks out there that get stronger and faster just looking at a weight and eating fast food. (It is just as essential for freak athletes to train as well because far too many rely on their genetics and athleticism to carry them through, but that topic is for another post)
Like I said I know time becomes more limited and is much harder to come by in season. Fortunately, an athlete can maintain most of their off-season gains by performing 1-2 short, properly designed workouts during the season. These workouts will also help to decrease the risk of injuries or make injuries less severe in many cases. The other benefit is it will take less time in the off-season to regain any lost progress and allow for more time to progress further.
Before I conclude I want to say that his post is not written to inflame anyone but to educate you. This is coming from a professional with A LOT of experience. Every one of my best division 1 athletes and guys that went pro trained in season, off season and paid attention to their nutrition. I actually really and truly give a shit about these kids and I hate to see them not live up to their potential or get hurt and ruin their athletic careers because they fail to put effort and resources into the most valuable asset of all. Their body. Think about it.
Wishing all  the athletes out there the best of luck and health this coming season. If you need help or want to train, give us a shout. We would love to help you.
Kevin
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