Transitions are a part of every sport. We go from offense to defense, sometimes by design and sometimes as the result of a turnover. The mountain biker or runner switches from uphill to down. Athletes who are good at transition, who handle it well stay in the game , have more fun and are often healthier.
The fall season has ended for a lot of the high school athletes we work with. Whether you are transitioning to a winter sport or looking ahead to the next club season here are a few things that might be helpful in the transition.
Ease into it. You’ve been training and competing six days a week for at least two months. Now is the time to reduce the volume, and cut back the intensity. Stay active though. Continue to move in ways you enjoy. Hike, bike, switch to ultimate frisbee for a while, try yoga. Do your stretching. Approach the next few weeks like a long cool down rather a full stop.
Get healthy. This is about more than injuries. It’s about restoring the balance that gets lost over time when we are competing and training. Take an inventory. How’s your sleep, nutrition, social connections? Is there one that needs some attention? Pausing now to reset those things will help you heading into the next season. Flourishing is about resilience not endurance.
Reconnect. Relationships take time and energy. There’s only so much to go around during a season when you are part of a team. It’s natural for them to ebb and flow. Are there important relationships where the connection has worn a little thin lately? Now is a good time to reach out and renew those. One of the things those relationships do is remind us of who we are outside of our role as an athlete.
Reflect. Experience is a great teacher and sports offers some wonderful lessons but, only if we stop to reflect from time to time. What went well and why do you think it went well? Is there something you want to do better and how would you do that? Gratitude is a big one here too. Name three things you’re thankful for from this past season. Researchers have found that a sense of gratitude is a positive predictor of team satisfaction, life satisfaction and lower burnout for young athletes. Write down your reflections. Getting it our of our head and onto the page is helpful. The old saying is “ink it, don’t think it.” It can be helpful to share it as well. Taking time to reflect also helps us close the chapter on the last season so we can move forward to prepare for and enjoy the next one.
Plan. After a little time to relax, reconnect and reflect we can start to look forward. The best time to get clear about your goals and the steps you want to take to accomplish them is before the next season.
Take advantage of the moment. Just like a good transition in a game helps us move from offense to defense and back again, a good transition between seasons helps us move from one to the next ready to give our best and continue to grow and develop.