No time to rest? Or time to rebuild? First off, it is important for athletes to have an “off-season”! From my experiences and observations, athletes of EVERY age need a break from their sport, as the season can by very physically, mentally and emotionally taxing. Though some young athletes are able to endure through in-season and club athletics of the same sport year round, I’ve seen and heard of many others with overuse injuries or they have become mentally burned out.
Every athlete is different, but I and much of the research believe that there should be a period where the young athlete steps back from intense competition to refocus and rebuild. I’m not saying they should do nothing, but instead, they should focus on a few things that will benefit them greatly when they are in season again. For one, there should be an element of fun, helping give the child or teen a mental break. Also, they should be strength training to increase muscular strength and endurance, leading to stronger bones, tendons and ligaments.
This will help lower sports related injuries and build self confidence. Next, there should be a focus on mobility. The better mobility there is the better technique and performance will be. Finally, (this is where the fun element can really be incorporated) these elements can be combined: balance/core stability and speed and agility. There is no “one size fits all” prescription for any athlete but I sure do enjoy tailoring specific programs to the different athletes with which I work.