The off-season is your time to check in with yourself. It's time to identify your weaknesses, inefficient movements and bad habits...then clean them up.
We all know how important it is to do the right type of training during our season. We get coached, we ski every day, we tweak our fins and run back-to-back passes... It’s crucial for the success we want to achieve. Proper sport-specific training in any sport is the key to an athlete's performance.
But what about the well-known but mostly under-appreciated off season training? I see a tendency for most athletes to just stop doing what they are doing when the season is over. I understand the relief of a couple of days or weeks off. It’s really important for the mind to turn off after a long and stressful season. Nevertheless we still need to do our homework!
For me, the off season is almost more important for the success for the next season than the season itself. We can clean up the bad habits we created through heavy skiing. We can learn new ways to move and become more mobile for the next season. And we can lift some weights to get stronger so we aren't trying to build strength during the season and can rather focus on our technique.
We have to understand that the season is only for maintaining our physical abilities and keeping the strength we achieved during the off-season.
WHY DO WE DEVELOP BAD MOVEMENT HABITS?
We, as athletes, are in sports which are unnatural to our body. So our body starts compensating for these unnatural movements every single time we train.
Let’s do the example of waterski slalom:
Every time you put your binding on and stand behind with one foot in front of the other, you start compensating for an unnatural stance. Every time you go around the buoy and take a hit or just break at the hip because you can’t hold the pull, your body compensates. Every time you extend your knees and back in the wake to hold the pull, your body finds a way to compensate. Don’t get me wrong; you might have the perfect position and technique for waterski slalom, but your body subconsciously doesn’t think so. So it will do it’s best to make you happy so you will get one more buoy or rope length. Your body also has the ability to do this game for a long time. But at some point it gives up and tells you. Sometimes with lower back pain or shoulder pain. You name it! And we are not alone. There are a lot of sports who have this issue.
SO, WHAT TO DO? STOP SKIING? YEAH, RIGHT!
You think your limited functionality, constant pain or occasional aches have to do with you getting older or tired. And yes, that might be a factor, but I tell you now, the majority of your pain or limitations during the season (or lack there of) all comes down to your off-season habits. Are you the one who occasionally goes out for a jog or lift some weights in the gym? If so, your not helping your body to be better for skiing. You need to find out why things in your body hurt and how to treat it with proper training and movement clean-up. That’s the way to find happiness for the season and just feel good. And training doesn’t mean the dry, old fashioned machine exercises you see in every gym. You must understand the sport we are, the demands it puts on the body, the strength and movement needed and then train towards this!
Change your mindset and lifestyle and not just train for an event or next season but train for life... So when you are 70+ years old you can do the sport you love without limitations and nagging pain.
When we do proper off-season training supervised by somebody who understands the movements and demands, I guarantee you will enjoy the next season more.
And the off-season training can be fun too!
As a professional waterski athlete and educated strength and conditioning trainer in Germany, Bojan provides a strong understanding of the needs of athletes and can approach their goals while understanding the need to train around competition schedules.