Training during the offseason is just as important as it is during the competitive season, maybe even more! The offseason refers to the time period between competitive seasons, such as the time between high school and club. Typically this lasts between four to six weeks, and these weeks can make or break your performance as an athlete. This is a time that will test your self-discipline. Do you train while nobody is watching? The offseason presents two options: either you train to get better or you get worse by doing nothing.
The offseason requires you to train differently. An athlete should not train with the same volume and intensity as during the regular season, as this will lead to overexertion. Training at full capacity will burn you out mentally, physically, and emotionally. Use the offseason wisely by balancing recovery with maintaining peak form. Do just enough work to maintain 65-75% of your peak condition. Doing nothing will make getting back into shape painful and difficult. The dedication you put forth will leave a positive impression on your coach, but more importantly, it decreases your risk of injury as you come back in decent shape.
When you practice, do it with intention. Offseason training is a great time to work on specific skills and balance. As with every sport, water polo creates some imbalances, so you can use this time to work on your weaknesses. Fundamentals and techniques should be the focus of your training during the offseason. This lower-intensity training will allow you to focus on the basics of the sport. Consult your coach and ask about bad habits and weaknesses you may be exhibiting so that you can go into training with a goal in mind.
As a water polo player, your focus doesn’t necessarily need to stick to just your sport! Consider cross-training to round our your imbalances. Try playing other sports such as basketball, ultimate frisbee, or even just riding your bike. These are ways to get the work in without overtraining. Training should be fun and short: aim for about one half or a third of the intensity and volume of your regular in-season training. For example, if you typically train for 2 or more hours during the regular season, you might want to cut that down to 45 minutes to an hour for three to four days a week. Ultimately with offseason training, your goal should be to come into the next season feeling refreshed and healthy.