Transition Time

iStock_000004316057MediumTransitions 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.

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It’s OK To Take A Break

Tired AthleteThanksgiving is coming at the perfect time. For one of our older groups its the fourth week of a training cycle; typically an unloading week where we back off and allow the mind and body to catch up and adapt to the hard work we’ve done. Because of the holiday we have one day in the gym this week  and the kids have a technical session on the turf. That’s it… perfect!

Along with a change in routine we want the athletes – especially the younger ones – to understand why we back off and  begin to think in terms of stress and recovery. We want them to learn to follow that oscillating wave of intense challenge and deep rest and regeneration, to pay attention to it and work with it, not to try to overcome it.

Kristen Diffenbach, Ph.D. said in an article for Podium Sports Journal ” If you can’t recover from the training you do and you don’t have an environment set up that allows that to happen you’re not going to get stronger no matter how much work you do.”

Creating awareness and opening up new thinking are part of creating that kind of environment. So, along with lightening the load this week we also talked about recovery, why we’re doing this and how they can optimize it so that their bodies adapt to the work they have done. That’s why it was so encouraging after our last session  to see this in one of the player’s journals. ” Its ok to take a break.” IMG_0871

We live in an outcome driven society where ” big data ” allows us to measure and rank and compare constantly. We have to keep moving and producing so taking a break is often seen as weakness or at the very least just falling behind. It’s not. It’s an essential part of the balance that’s required for both health and performance.

So Thanksgiving is here. Time for all of us to pause, rest, reflect and take a break. Sleep late, eat well, enjoy time together  and alone. The holiday is coming at the perfect time.  “It’s okay to take a break.”

 

Resources for Good Nutrition

“You are what you eat.”   

It’s discouraging to watch a young athlete go through a tough training session and then hear them talking about a trip to a fast food restaurant on their way out of the gym. Feels like two steps forward and almost as many back.

jamie+anderson+slopestyleOne group of athletes that’s done particularly well at the Sochi Olympics are the United States skiers and snowboarders. Part of the reason for that is that they have one of the best approaches to Long Term Athletic Development around. They’ve looked at everything from physical training to mental skills to character development. Its an approach that most other sports can learn a lot from.  It’s about developing potential by working with the whole person.

The link below is to a video  from their Park City, Utah training center to a group of young athletes. It lays out a what I think is a very helpful and practical approach to good nutrition. They make it clear that good nutrition is not about supplements and meal plans. Instead it’s about learning to make good choices. In this short presentation they offer some simple examples and guidelines that make it easy to get started.

http://www.dartfish.tv/Presenter.aspx?CR=p1490c13640m1730200&CL=1

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There are several downloadable pdf’s as well that give simple diagrams for planning your plate. Just check under the Athletes Eating Guidelines as ” Athletes Plates ” .  As they say in the video, ” Good nutrition is not going to be the reason you win but, poor nutrition will hold you back.” Small steps in the right direction open up the possibility for big gains down the line. It’s that 1% solution. These resources are a good place to start.