There are not too many athletes, coaches or parents that would disagree that a bigger, stronger, faster, fitter athlete will usually beat an equally skilled athlete who is not as big, strong, fast or fit. What many often fail to realize is that athletes should be peaking with their performance during the most crucial and important games and matches they play. These important games and matches usually occur during the late part of the season and during the postseason into championship play. The ability to peak at the most important time requires athletes training year-round and being consistent in their training.
The Mullen Sports Performance department’s philosophy is to design training with the endgame in mind. The endgame means we design our overall program to build year after year. We design our in-season training to keep our athletes strong and healthy throughout the season to be able to perform at their best during the postseason and championship season. Being able to do this happens especially well when athletes have a solid training base and have participated in training throughout the calendar year.
If an athlete only trains during the season they will still be able to develop strength and prevent injury, but do not really have much of a training base to be able to build off of. The priority in-season is the sport and it would be foolish to do anything during training that would hinder performance on the field/court/ice/pool, etc. In addition, if an athlete trains only during the pre-season and during the season they are better off, but still not reaching their full potential. At this point they have more of a training base, will develop more strength and prevent injuries, but still not the best option to be the most successful in your sport(s). The best option to be injury resilient and perform at the peak of an athletes’ ability is year-round training. Training done 2-4 times a week on a consistent basis during the off-season, pre-season, in-season and postseason.
High school athletes are still adolescents developing and growing into their bodies. I would highly encourage a high school athlete to lift and train 2-4 times a week instead of adhering to the “more is better” mentality. What usually happens when athletes train 5-6 times a week is burnout after a few weeks and injury if unable to recover from prescribed volumes and intensities. A minimum dosage keeps training exciting and allows optimal recovery in between training sessions along with the ability to remain consistent.
Athletes not lifting in season are at a severe competitive disadvantage against their opponents who do lift during the season. As mentioned earlier, the endgame must always be in mind. Athletes should be their strongest and best during the end of the season and during the postseason. Strength and power decreases occur after 10-14 days without training and which leads to a higher risk for injury This means an athlete not training during the season is weaker, slower and less fit two weeks into the season than during tryouts. Most championship teams are able to stay healthy and perform their best during clutch moments late in the season. They are unable to do this if slower and weaker than the opponent, or worse off injured during the season.
All athletes should be training year-round. Consistency is the most important factor to change any part of performance. Consistently training can help an athlete win a starting position, move up a team from JV to varsity or increase performance to play at the next level in college. Coaches and athletes must have the endgame in mind to do what is best for student-athletes and give them the best opportunity to compete at their highest level.