The Real Meaning of the “Off” Season
Posted by Dean Holden at April 11th, 2015
by Mike Boyle, 7 April 2015
I’ve been posting lots of info about how athletes need to play multiple sports. The evidence is overwhelming and keeps piling up. However, in typical Type A parent style many have misinterpreted the message. Playing multiple sports also means taking time off from the “main” sport. Don’t just add more time in another sport, have an off-season from the primary. By the way, off means off. That means most importantly no games. Doing something related to your primary sport 1-2 nights a week is fine as long as it’s not contributing to overuse injury or mental burnout. Playing in weekend tournaments all year round while trying to juggle another sport is not fine, in fact it is just dumb.
I know there is lots of pressure from coaches to play year round but, like the old Nancy Reagan ads say, “Just Say NO”. Both my kids love hockey and consider themselves hockey players first. In fact, my multi-sport trained daughter already has a division 1 scholarship at 15. However it is important to note that she has never played in a formal spring league ( yes, she does skate in the spring but no games) and, played in her first summer hockey tournament just prior to her 13th birthday ( she’s a July baby). She has also been a soccer forward, a soccer goalie, a swimmer, a diver and a state judo champion. She has repeatedly turned down summer tournament invites ( yes, she now is allowed to play in three) but, there is literally one “Showcase” every weekend it seems. All of spring and part of summer is “off” from the game and tournament circuit for her.
My son ( 10 years old) will play lacrosse and baseball this spring and probably won’t skate at all. I’m not worried that he will fall behind.
If your child is not inclined to play another sport, try out a good sports performance program with qualified coaches as an off-season. Guess what, that’s what pros do.
Remember, it a marathon, not a sprint. The tortoise beat the hare. Creating a great athlete in many sports creates the greatest chance of winning down the stretch.
Category: 10K hours / 10 years, Ask the Experts, athleticism, diversification, education, fun, fundamental movement skills, growth & development, injury, learning, LTAD, motivation, neuroplasticity, passion, philosophy, physical literacy, planning / periodization, play, retention, specialization, sporting culture of madness, transfer