Player Nutrition and Training During Off-Season
No matter what age or division you play in, it’s exceptionally important to take a break over the off-season.
Any sport played at a competitive level is taxing on the body, and it’s essential that players give their body a chance to recover to avoid the risk of injury or burning out when the season returns. However, this doesn’t mean overindulging over the holiday season and doing little no exercise, but rather just not competing in this period. The off-season marks a prime opportunity to refine technical skill work, focus on strengthening and conditioning exercises, and aerobic training.
Given the decline in physical activity over the holiday period, changes to your diet need to be made accordingly with a focus on matching calorie intake with your energy expenditure. Maintaining a healthy, nutritionally balanced diet is exceptionally important and is just as vital during the off-season as it is during the peak. Diet correlates directly with your corresponding energy levels throughout the day, concentration abilities and recovery time, and is also indicative of how fast you will be able to return to your peak fitness at the start of the new season.
No basketball great was born overnight, and giving your body a chance to rest and rejuvenate post-season is just as vital as the training sessions mid-comp. The following three points suggest dietary changes, exercises and technical skills for players to work on over the break, which will not only ensure players are ready for the next season, but also reduce their risk of injury in the next season.
Tips and Tricks For The Off-Season:
Naturally, during the off-season, your exercise intensity drops off, which means/ players need to be more aware of their calorie intake and subsequent energy expenditure. During the off-season, players should be eating foods that are nutritionally balanced with lots of vitamins and minerals to help stimulate tissue regeneration such as Vitamins A, B, C, and D as well as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, and zinc.
Basketballers should be eating a high protein (for muscle growth and repair) and high carbohydrate (for optimal energy) diet, with natural, whole foods rather than processed. Consuming foods that are high in antioxidants also protects against muscle damage and aids in muscle repair. For junior players, calcium and iron are exceptionally important; helping bone growth and development and carrying oxygen throughout the body. Staying hydrated is also just as important during the off-season, and players should be drinking more water than energy drinks and Gatorade/ PowerAde.
If you are experiencing any pains or injuries, it is very important to address them before resuming any kind of training and consult their physician and or physio. During the off-season, players should focus on developing their aerobic energy system, improving general strength and refine movement patterns. Increasing your aerobic fitness (energy requiring oxygen e.g. running) is vital to help replenish the body’s fuel for anaerobic energy (energy without oxygen e.g. exercises targeting specific muscles) to perform high-intensity bursts during a game.
- Aerobic training also helps promotes recovery, as it pumps oxygenated blood around the body helping rebuild damaged tissue.
- Examples of aerobic training include; long runs, swimming or bike riding at a heart rate of 130 – 150 beats/ minute.
The off-season is a perfect opportunity to develop and improve on technical skills at a lower intensity than in-season. At a reduced pace, players are able to perfect their technique enabling them to develop a strong foundation of movement patterns to avoid injury during the season. Junior players should utilize the off-season to develop foundational movement patterns as well as general strength and conditioning to establish a solid foundation for essential movements like jumping, landing, decelerating, pushing and pulling. Improve your shot accuracy by shooting from various positions on the court. To increase your percentage, you must develop your accuracy in the off-season as it’s too difficult during the season.
These suggestions and recommendations are not going to suit everybody and you should always consult a nutritionist, physiotherapist or coach before making any large changes to your diet, training or exercise regime. The most important thing you can do in the off-season is to take a rest, recuperate and have some fun, so you can come back fighting fit!