As the seasons change, so does the training regimen
For most athletes, the month of October means they are in high gear finishing the fall season, or that they are preparing for the up and coming winter season, which includes basketball. Because of the month long Olympic break during August, the WNBA season concluded less than one month ago. Our Connecticut Sun athletes participated in the WNBA Finals, extending our summer season until mid-October. For Sun athletes, this means a quick transition to the European Pro leagues or an off-season of training here in the United States.
As is the case with Sun athletes, physical conditioning and training for high school and college athletes is typically divided into four seasons: postseason, off-season, preseason, and in-season. Year round conditioning is designed to prepare the athlete for peak performance during the season while addressing ways to prevent injury and overtraining.
Here is a breakdown of the typical athletic training cycle:
Once the season ends, the postseason phase begins, lasting for up to four weeks. This time is primarily dedicated to physical and mental restoration. Detailed medical evaluations occur, and this time can be especially appropriate for injury rehabilitation. This is an important time to incorporate alternative conditioning, allowing the athletes time away from the gym. Activities such as yoga, Pilates, and swimming are excellent low impact conditioning tools.
The off-season phase usually entails increasing strength and conditioning for the sport while also working on improving skill level. For many multi-sport high school athletes, the off-season is spent participating in other sports.
The preseason phase is 4-6 weeks long and prepares the athletes for the specific demands of their sport. Flexibility, endurance, strength and agility are emphasized. If a good base of physical fitness is attained prior to the preseason, practice time can be used more effectively and injuries can be prevented. If the training room is full of athletes with pulled muscles during the preseason you can bet the athletes did not train properly during the off-season.
Most athletes enjoy the in-season period because the primary focus is on playing games. Practices become less frequent during the height of the season due to the game and travel schedules. De-conditioning can occur if strength and conditioning levels are not maintained. Pursuing a championship is directly affected by the conditioning and health of the athletes toward the end of the season. A whole years worth of preparation will be a factor during those very important closing weeks of the season.
So as the leaves fall and the weather changes, our Connecticut Sun athletes will move into their offseason phase, beginning preparation for a successful 2005 season.