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How To Prepare Yourself For Preseason (Starting Now)

Whether you are competing at the collegiate level or preparing for your next race season, preseason will always be your first challenge (and enemy) to encounter after a long, fun-filled summer. Its dreadful name haunts and lingers at the back of your mind while you are laying on an open beach trying to enjoy the last moments of your free summer.

Before you know it, your parents ask, “are you ready for preseason?” and you can instantly feel yourself shrinking in your shoes. Moments flash through your memory of all the times you spent playing basketball at the Jersey Shore arcade or floating around a friend’s pool rather than going for a run or hitting the gym. Guilt takes over and you’re left with an unprepared body as well as an unconditioned mind.

With preseason just a few short weeks ahead, how are you supposed to catch up now? I want to offer some insight about preseason as I am entering my final season in collegiate athletics, and hope I can somewhat pave a path that will be easy and enjoyable to walk down. 



Image Source: Ryan McGuire from Pixabay 


Make a Timeline for Yourself

I am presuming you are a student (or were one at some point), so you must know all the benefits of organization. Although this might be an obvious step, organization is often overlooked and underworked. To make the process easier, starting with visualizations will help. Open Calendar on your computer. Print an outlined calendar online or pick one up at the store. Start jotting down all the days you are busy with either work, family vacation, weddings, WHATEVER it may be, get the little things on there first. We can work around it. If you’re working with a summer league, note when your practices/games are so those days are already checked off for training. Now you can visualize your schedule and see what days will work best for you to start slowly making progress on your preseason self!

 

Start Small

I think a big mistake that athletes make while training for preseason is their intentions to start with very radical and intense workouts. Just above, you decided (I hope) you’re going to organize yourself, so why start jumping around and driving your body into the ground when you have copious amounts of time on your hands? Start little. Gradually, your body will adjust to workouts, and you can begin to balance the hard training with the easy throughout the week. On top of that, YOU ARE BUSY! Students are undeniably working through the summer, so do not break your back over a summer workout packet, training comes with patience. Starting little doesn’t necessarily mean starting with easy workouts, but it can also reference the amount of training days you allow yourself for the week. Look at your schedule. Fit three training days in for the first few weeks and gradually work your way up. Eventually, you will make it to four or five days a week, but I advise that you don’t ever work seven consecutive days… your body needs recovery.

 

The Importance of Recovery

I don’t think I can stress enough the power that recovery has for your body and mind. It is one of the most important steps in training your body because it allows for your health to be restored and your body to be ready to take on other physical challenges throughout the week. On your off days, do minimal work. Get rest, take time for yourself, and refuel your body with the right foods and fluids. A good tip is to take a few minutes out of your recovery day to roll your body out, stretch, and relax. Your body will thank you for it, trust me. Without stretching, refueling, and relaxing, your body will (metaphorically) start to deteriorate and the more you continue to train without recovery days, the worse you’re going to feel and the higher chance you are putting yourself at risk for injuries! Remember, we are preparing our bodies day by day, so patience is a major factor in how your body plays in the role of preparation and recovery. You will not see results immediately but rather, after a few short weeks of the combination of training and recovery, your body will be well into its shaping up journey.

Tip: Take a few minutes out of your recovery day to roll your body out, stretch, and relax.

 

Training Buddies

It might be a little more challenging to find a workout buddy if you are training for your college team, but if you know friends locally who are in the same position as you are, give a group workout a try! I personally love training with friends from high school or even local college friends because it gives you motivation when you have someone other than yourself pushing you. It also makes the time go by quicker and might even make the arduous workout a little more enjoyable! We all know the supporting feeling that teammates provide for us, so why not have one by your side every now and then?

 

Train with a Purpose

Train with the intention that you are going to get better. I for one, hate working out just as much as the next person, however, I do love the feeling after. I like feeling accomplished and one step closer to my goal. I think a lot of the time athletes will just go through the motions to get the workout done, but it’s important that you keep in mind why you are training in the first place. You WANT to get better and you WANT to be prepared coming the end of the summer. You are supposed to be already in shape by the time preseason comes, not after it’s over. You’re training so that you can be unmatchable in your conference and these larger goals start with how you prepare yourself now. Train like you mean it. Whether it’s a half hour or two hours, put in the effort because it does count. You can recover later.

You are supposed to be already in shape by the time preseason comes, not after it’s over. Train like you mean it.

 

The Last Week

I won’t forget one of the summers I was practicing a few times a week with my old club friends and coaches. Towards the few remaining practices, one of my coaches advised that we don’t do anything the week before our fitness test, which sounded very alarming at the time. Don’t we need those last few days to train and get possibly faster and stronger? NO. You have been training all summer, working, relaxing, balancing, doing everything you can to get to where you are right before your fitness tests. Take the last week off. Your body will not rescind its progress in any way, shape, or form, but it will allow you for one last relaxation before the hard, upcoming weeks. It is for the better and will allow your body to feel fresh and ready to go.

 

Balance

Everything in life is always about balance. Balance your summer! You don’t have to think about the terrors of preseason every day. You made a schedule because you want to be able to have opportunities where you can sit around and do nothing or be able to go to your job without any interference. You are still young and your summer is a time for relaxation so make that count for yourself. Set aside beach days, nights with your friends, meals with your family, whatever it may be, you can do it! Allow that for yourself!

I am no preseason expert, but balancing your summer, your recovery, your workouts, and more, will allow you to really be ready for the upcoming season. Do not drill yourself into the ground because you will not reach peak performance like that and your mind will be thoroughly exhausted.

Plan your months, train on days that you can, and have fun with your summer! Preseason, although it is nightmare, will strengthen you, your relationships with your teammates, and your goals! You are training now to reach your goals of winning the conference or making the NCAA tournament, so work hard but balance yourself at the same time, it will be worth it.