Ah, off-season. For an athlete, this is a time to rest, recover, and get your mind right. But for a coach, the off-season scaries can hit your team hard if you’re not prepared. Coming off the high of basketball season and with football just a faint, distant memory, motivation in the colder months can be hard to come by.
We often hear the phrase, “Champions are made in the off-season,” but don’t always see the hard work and dedication that backs it. So with warmer weather and spring practices approaching slowly but surely, we put together some of our best tips to help you motivate your team this off-season.
Set long-term and short-term goals
Goals are a great way to keep your team focused. When setting goals, it’s important to know where everyone is at in their athletic journey both individually and as a team. Each player will need to evaluate themselves both as they are now and as they hope to be. This helps your team focus on the day-to-day while keeping the bigger picture in mind. Setting systematic goals that involve immediate steps and long-term gains, like increasing their overall squat weight or speed, allows your team to focus on process improvement to achieve better outcomes.
Don’t be afraid to rest and recover
Rest and recovery days often get a bad rap in the hyper-competitive world of athletics. However, it’s critical to prioritize your team’s recovery right alongside your team’s training. As workouts pick up momentum with the upcoming season on the horizon, an “all or nothing” mentality can dominate the locker room. But too much over-training can negatively impact overall health and lead to mental and physical fatigue both inside and outside the weight room. Encourage your team to leverage off days to the best of their ability by stretching and foam rolling any sore or tight muscle groups.
Switch up your routines
Lost motivation is often driven by boredom. Sticking to with your specific, pre-planned workouts is a great way to stay consistent and on-track during the off-season. However, working the same muscle groups with the same movements can lead your team to a performance plateau. Every once in a while, switch up the team’s workout routines to keep the off-season enthusiasm high. Try incorporating workouts that target under-worked muscle groups and introduce new movements, like yoga or pilates based workouts.
Keep your team focused on the bigger picture. The off-season workout routine is invaluable, but it can foster a kind of roboticism, where your team works because you’re telling them to, not because they want to. While there may not be as much as excitement in the coming months, off-season is a chance to dramatically improve endurance and performance during the season both individually and as a team—a fact easily forgotten in the dead months. Remind your team that practice directly impacts performance.
Remember, how your team performs in the off-season will show up in their upcoming season performance. Hold each team member, and yourself, accountable and consistently encourage them to work to the best of their ability. Investing in the well-being of your team now will pay off big in the future.