It’s the end of another season. You’ve survived preseason drills and scrimmages, followed by a grueling season of practice and games before weeks of grinding through the playoffs. For some, the end of the season means much needed rest. However, for an increasing number of athletes, the end of the playoffs signifies the start of another season – be it of the same sport or another sport. As single sport athletes have begun focusing on their respective sport year round, and multisport athletes are taking only two to three months period off, the medical community has realized that a well-designed strength and conditioning program during the off-season is necessary to help decrease the risk of injury and help maintain and improve an athlete’s current level of performance.
A study, conducted by Moore, Hickey, and Reiser1, found that a 12-week off-season resistance-training program resulted in significant improvements to collegiate entry-level competitive soccer players’ performance. Combining traditional resistance training with either Olympic-style lifts (such as squats or deadlifts) or plyometric exercises (such as hurdle hops) led to significant improvements in countermovement vertical jump, four-repetition maximum squat, 25 meter sprint, and Figure-8 drills on a 5-dot mat. This study suggests that entry-level athletes with little resistance-training experience may gain similar improvements.
Strength training has also been shown to be very beneficial to children and adolescents as they try to gain a competitive edge during the offseason. Youth and adolescents can improve their strength by 30% to 50% in only a few months with a well-designed program and only need to continue training twice per week to maintain that strength.2 Injuries related to strengthening in this age group primarily occur because of misuse of equipment, lack of qualified supervision, or inappropriate weight and technique, so be sure to work with a qualified trainer who has experience working with younger populations to ensure you strength training effectively and safely.
Athletes of all ages and experience levels require off-season strength and conditioning training to decrease their risk of injury. A study involving 1300 NHL players found that there was a three-fold increase in risk of injury among players who reported low levels of off-season work compared to those who had higher levels.3 Players were also more than twice as likely to become injured if they suffered a similar injury in the past, suggesting prevention is even more important than previously thought.
Whether you’re looking to make your high school team or stay at the top of your game, off-season training has been proven effective in staying healthy and gaining a competitive edge. The summer and sport-specific off-season training programs at The Micheli Center were developed to aid athletes in maximizing injury prevention while improving performance.
To enroll in our summer training or off-season training programs, please call the center at 781-373-2760.
- Moore EW, Hickey MS, Reiser RF. Comparison of two twelve week off-season combined training programs on entry level collegiate soccer players’ performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2005 Nov;19(4):791-8.
- Dahab KS, McCambridge TM. Strength training in children and adolescents: raising the bar for young athletes? Sports Health. 2009 May;1(3):223-6.
- Emery CA, Meeuwisse WH. Risk factors for groin injuries in hockey. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Sep;33(9):1423-33.