I have a ton of respect for the players who dedicate themselves in the offseason. As a fellow gym rat, I understand the struggle.
There's no fans to cheer you on and inspire you to train hard. There's no publicity or fanfare to pick up your energy when you feel tired. It's all on you to continue to improve even when you find it hard to sustain the grind of daily workouts.
For this reason, most players who work their tail off in the offseason do so because they're intrinsically motivated to improve. They don't do it for a pat on the back. Players without this intrinsic motivation often find it difficult to train hard in the offseason because there just isn't enough immediate reward to drive disciplined workouts.
But for everyone out there who does work hard during the offseason, trust me, it's worth it. It's the grueling days when you're alone in the gym and your friends are out partying and slacking off that separates you from the pack.
Here's 5 reasons why the offseason is the most important time for an athlete.
1) Complete Self-Focus
Without many practices and games to worry about, the offseason is the perfect time for you to raise your game to a new level. You can focus all your energy on improving skills and molding your body without having to expend time and energy on team-oriented drills.
2) Impress your Coach
The offseason is also a great opportunity to make an impact on your coach. Your coach likely won't see you play for a long time. So if you come back in great shape and significantly more skilled, I can guarantee that your coach will be impressed. The offseason gives you the chance to show the coach that you are self-motivated and willing to work hard--something every coach loves to see.
3) Space to Experiment
For the most part, coaches are great at teaching the game. But its hard to feel confident enough to try new moves when a mistake can affect your playing time or relegate you to the dog house. Without the fear of the coach’s wrath and the constraints of the team system, the offseason allows you to add breadth to your game. Once you have sufficiently practiced your newly practiced skills, you can apply them confidently in team settings.
4) Build Confidence
At Point Guard College (which I highly recommend), I learned that confidence comes from two things: What you think about all day and your preparation. The offseason gives you space for both. You get to work on your game and you can practice viewing yourself in a positive light. For more, check out this post on the source of athlete confidence.
5) Set the Foundation for your Season
If you walk into the first day of practice out of shape and rusty, you immediately start at a disadvantage. From then on you have to work extra hard just to catch up to everyone else; a difficult task for the majority of us who aren’t blessed with elite athleticism. Or, you can enter practice feeling confident, in shape, and with added skills. Coaches and teammates will see the difference. It’s your choice.
Remember, even though the regular season is when the spotlight is on, champions are made in the offseason.
For all you gym rats out there, what's your favorite part of the offseason?