When people think of the word 'off-season' they might assume it means time off, or time to relax and recuperate, but the truth is, it is the furthest thing from this description. For a football athlete, the off-season can be as long as 8 months, and is longer than the duration of the actual competitive season.
Football is a dynamic and physically demanding sport where rejuvenation is required immediately post-season. This is when new goals are set and work begins to achieve these ambitions. What each athlete does in the off-season will look very different, but for myself – a collegiate football athlete, CFL prospect and Personal Trainer – the following provides an insight into what my current off-season regiment involves.
With the football season ending at the end of November or December, the first month or so is often used for maintenance, therapy and flexibility as minor injuries often need to be settled in order to properly build for the next season. The body needs to be 100% before you can take it to that next level.
Once the New Year hits, it’s go time. This means I have seven months to make myself the strongest, fastest, most mobile and durable (often overlooked) athlete I can be.
I have the privilege of training and being employed by the guru Jeff Fisher at Elite Performance. Jeff is the science behind the composition of my off-season. Jeff constructs a personalized program that includes both training and diet that complements my existing skills and focuses on areas where improvements would be beneficial. To understand your body and to communicate with it is an ongoing challenge as an athlete.
Stage 1: To begin, it is crucial to go through a muscular and tendon strengthening stage. This is where the weakened tendons and/or muscle strains from the previous year are balanced out, broken down and rebuilt in order to withstand the effort and exhaustion that the body is about to endure.
Stage 2: This is the power stage that involves muscle building and heavy lifting. Weights are tossed around in low repetitions in order to maximize power and velocity - crucial in the game of football where a game can be decided in a one second play.
Stage 3: This is the endurance stage - where you learn how to maximize this velocity and power over a certain length of time and/or repetitions. Here is where you often experience high repetitions as an athlete, exhausting the muscles to build muscular endurance.
Final Stage: The last stage, and the most important, is the speed stage, which takes place immediately prior to training camp. This is where the athlete comes together. The power and explosiveness attained in stage one, the longevity of this power in stage two and now the incorporation of straight SPEED! As we say in football, speed kills! The speed component allows the athlete to command their muscles into proper technique with sufficient muscular and tendon strength while exercising the power and endurance together.
The season is grueling, and every week you want to prepare the body and mind to play your best come game day. Just like in a game, every second counts.
My advice to other athletes - don't waste your off-season, use it to your advantage. Be ELITE and be #relentless!