Athletes of all ages have been a little shell shocked by the cancellation of seasons due to the infamous COVID-19. People may feel that the cancellations were a disadvantage, and fear that they are missing out on the experience to get better at their sport. I think this time period is quite the opposite; it is an opportunity.
Most of the time, athletes of all ages are plagued with being busy. Between practice, games, and school, they are left with very little time to truly focus. What athletes sometimes have a hard time understanding, is that being busy does not mean being productive. Even the professional athletes we see have trouble with this concept.
Being an athlete growing up and playing baseball in college, I know first hand that the workload can be overwhelming, to say the least. On top of that, the athlete mentality sets us up to constantly stress that we should be doing more because there is always someone out there that may be “outworking us”. If I knew growing up what I know now, I would have gone about my athletic career much differently. My advice? Use this time to focus on the skills necessary to actually get you to the next level of your sport, instead of focusing on the ‘more is better’ approach. We don’t need more games and drills if we don’t understand the basic movements to excel at.
Poor Functional Movements + Increased Demand (Games/Practices) = Building on A Compensation (Cap on Potential) + Increased Risk of Overuse and Injury
This is an opportunity to use this time to build on ideal movement strategies in order to maximize your potential and decrease the risk of injury over time. It is not the amount of training that matters, it is how you train. If you are ‘inflexible’, or lack range of motion, or simply know your form is not where it should be, now is the time to fix these issues. You will not be the best at your sport by playing more games. You become the best by recognizing your strengths and weaknesses, gaining a knowledge base of what creates both of these, and coming up with an execution strategy to focus on both.
Let’s put this simply. If you have a bad form in your sport, you put a cap on your potential and increase the risk of injury. If you have a bad form in your sport, you probably practice with bad form. If the bad form is your normal way of moving, you most likely train with bad form. Then, you keep reinforcing bad movement strategies that further the compensation in your sport. So, what do you do if you recognize improper form, tightness, or lack of range of motion? Well, if you simply focus on stretching, for example, will your form change when you play? Of course not. The brain is in control and has an ingrained movement strategy. The goal is to change the way the brain uses the body so that you don’t have tight muscles and a lack of range of motion in the first place. If you can gain new movement strategies and integrate these into your sport, you can ingrain a new habit and new normal of movement. Then you can really build speed, power, and strength behind an ideal way of movement. This is how you maximize your potential while decreasing the risk of injury.
This offseason is an opportunity so don’t come out of this time with the same issues, or cap, as before. Our facility will be open to athletes of all ages to help assist in this opportunity. We will make sure our athletes know how to move correctly in their sport, and give them the tools to train, practice, and play the correct way. Each athlete we see will have an analysis of sport-specific movements and make sure the new skills learned to integrate directly into their sport. While some athletes are choosing stress and mourning their lost season, the best athletes can create an opportunity to rise above the rest.