Girls Sports - Players are Made in the Off-Season
TAKE IT FROM A COLLEGE ATHLETE
By Tracy Rainey, Senior, Lake Forest College
Captain of the Women’s Varsity Basketball and Softball teams
As an athlete, one of the most repeated sayings I have heard throughout my career has been, “players are made in the offseason.” Looking back at my high school and collegiate careers, I couldn’t agree more. The success I have achieved in both basketball and softball stems from the hours I put in when no one was watching. In fact, I believe that lifting and training during the offseason is just as important as the work you put in during season. But it is the offseason workout that enables athletes to become quicker and stronger for longer.
In my experience, resistance and weight training are important for peak performance. Before young female athletes are properly trained on working with weights, the focus should be on resistance exercises (like sit ups, push ups, dips and leg raises) that can be incorporated into workouts. While resistance training provides a great start, in order to compete at the varsity at the high school and collegiate levels, an athlete must progress to weight lifting. I was properly trained and started lifting weights when I was a freshman in high school. Since then, I try to lift three times a week during the offseason because of the obvious benefits. Lifting has not only decreased my body fat and created more muscle, it has increased my endurance and reduced my risk for injury. For good reason, lifting during the offseason has been more rigorous than lifting during competition months. As a result, I build more muscle out of season and focus on incorporating my added strength into my sports play.
The offseason also allows me time for agility training, which has definitely made me a much better athlete. Like lifting, it is important to develop proper technique when learning drills related to quickness and agility. There are times now when my workouts are completely devoted to S&A.
Weight training, lifting, and agility training are great workouts that athletes young and old should perform during the offseason. Building and toning muscle and increasing your speed and quickness do not occur overnight. So I suggest you start young with supervision and realize the benefits of working year-round. Commitment will lead to the best performance possible.
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