With the exception of the teams still pursuing a state championship, most high school teams across the country have completed their seasons. In the past two weeks alone I have received a Tsunami of emails, Tweets and Facebook messages asking me to outline some off-season training thoughts.
I highly, highly recommend for players to take one to two full weeks off after their last game. Although this is rarely done, it should be a non-negotiable. After a long, grueling high school season, players need to rest their minds and their bodies. They need to spend quality time with family and friends. They need to make sure their academics are on point. They need to get extra sleep. They need to eat well. They need to kick back, relax and enjoying being young! High school will be over in the blink of an eye; they shouldn’t take this time for granted. They need to enjoy the journey.
This rest period means no structured training – no weight room, no skill workouts and no pick-up games.
This concept is usually hard to grasp for most players (and often times their parents), because we live in a ‘more is better’ society. We live in a society where taking a day off is a sign of weakness. And we live in a society where people where t-shirts that say, ‘There is no off-season!’
While I certainly applaud passion, dedication and the drive to be the best player you can be, most of the players with this mindset have been misinformed and believe that taking a couple of weeks off will cause them to regress.
Nothing is further from the truth. In fact, this mental & physical break is the best thing a player can do for their mental sanity and physical progress. Trust me.
Players need to properly address any nagging injuries they experienced during the season. They shouldn’t ignore sore ankles, sore knees and sore backs. If these issues don’t go away after two weeks of rest, they need to see a medical professional (an Athletic Trainer or Physical Therapist) for an in-person evaluation.
The worst thing a player can do is let a small nagging injury turn into something much worse by trying to ignore it. If you have a slight tweak in your groin your ankle… playing 60 AAU games this spring is not the cure.
The only structured physical activity I recommend during this recovery phase would be daily foam rolling:
And active stretching and mobility type movements:
Yoga-type movements and foam rolling a few times per week will help the recovery process.
Players need to take 10 minutes every day during this two-week period and sit comfortably in total silence – no phones, no computers, no music and no TV. They need to close their eyes and reflect on this past season. If it was a successful season, they should take time to feel good about what they accomplished and pinpoint what made it such an impressive year.
If it was a rough season, they need to use it as a learning experience to get better. They need to reflect on the challenges they faced and brainstorm ways to handle those issues in the future. Every adversity creates opportunity.
This daily, 10-minute reflection period will provide clarity to a purposeful and productive off-season.
Train hard. Fuel smart. Get better.
PS: This past weekend, prior to one of my Cutting Edge Clinics, I watched the last 10 minutes of a 5th grade AAU game. I saw a coach get a technical foul for berating a referee and I saw a father bring his son to tears for being so abrasive (and quite honestly obnoxious) from the stands. Wow. I’ve seen more appropriate behavior on late night reality TV.
- Lower rims – generally speaking, players in 1-4th grade should probably be playing on 8’ or 8 ½’ baskets and 5-6th grade on 9’ or 9 ½’ baskets. This would help promote proper shooting form.
- Smaller balls – same concept as lower rims.
- No 3-pointers – I realize that every court in America has the 3-point line painted on, but we should disregard it for players younger than 7th grade. The percentage of players that can properly (with good form) shoot from that distance is minimal. They end up taking a running start and chucking the ball from their hip.
- No zone defense (or double teaming) – 5th graders playing zone defense is absurd. No further comment.