How Athletes Can Improve Mental Health During Off-season
Spring and summer are fast approaching, and for some athletes, the sports season will be in full swing, while for others, this is the off-season. During the off-season, mental health in some athletes can deteriorate. They are no longer in the routine of afterschool practices, are unable to see their friends and teammates throughout the week, and may believe that their skills will deteriorate without weekly practices.
Off-season can instead be viewed as a time to improve on weaknesses while relishing opportunities to feel fresh, recovered, and rejuvenated. So what can athletes be doing during the off-season to help facilitate an even better season next year?
Mental Health in Athletes: Tips for Off-season
1. Take time off
Your body needs to heal and recover. Even though you are young, and your Mom and Dad say you have endless amounts of energy, you need to recover more than anyone. Prioritize your sleep, hydration, and nutrition to ensure that you are feeling fresh and ready to go for your next season.
- Sleep at least 8-10 hours.
- Eat as many whole foods as possible (fruits, vegetables, lean proteins).
- Drink as much water as you can.
Combining these three actions into your summertime routine will guarantee that you are fresh and ready to go for your tryouts and the upcoming season. Going all out 365 days of the year can lead to injuries and burnout. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint, so you need to take time off.
2. Play a different sport
You always hear about how some of the greatest athletes played multiple sports growing up. Wayne Gretzky played every sport he could growing up. LeBron James played basketball and football all throughout high school. And Michael Jordan played both baseball and basketball.
As you can see, the GOATs played different sports throughout their youth.
No, you won’t “get worse” or fall behind your peers by partaking in a different sport during the off-season. You will more than likely train other parts of your body that you don’t use in your primary sport. Maybe you will even gain a different perspective on your primary sport that will make you a stronger player!
3. Hit the gym
Going to the gym involves getting faster, stronger, and more importantly, figuring out how your body performs within a certain space.
This can be done by finding a strength and conditioning coach in the area that has a reputation for working with high-quality athletes. They understand the basic movement patterns, and they will be able to help you succeed by getting you physically ready for the demands of your sport.
Strength and conditioning, coupled with injury prevention are two of the biggest bonuses of going to the gym. The stronger and faster that you can be, the more dominant you will be in your sport. Secondly, you are more likely to stay off of the sidelines with an injury, which means more time that you can spend playing and practicing to hone in on your skills.
4. Play outside
It is important to not forget to be kids this summer. Play with your friends, ride your bike, go for a swim at the local pool, or go camping. Anything and everything that you can do to be active outside will help you feel better moving into the next year.