I know what you’re thinking: is Erica really going to dive balls deep?
Is she reallyyyyyyy going to compare off-season training to Charles Darwin?
Well, if you’ve been a reader of mine for a length of time, you know I have an affinity for whacky analogies. Sure, I could be like every other blogger in the industry and write in exercise science jargon, overuse the term “core stability,” speak in monotone in my videos, and shy away from F bombs and colorful text.
Instead, I choose to be playful in my prose. That’s me.
And if you’re still reading by this point…
So now you’re probably wondering, ‘how does off-season soccer training relate to Charles Darwin?’
While the two may sound totally disjoined, I beg to differ. In fact, there’s a multitude of ways the two blend together. There’s many ways they can be related by a nerdy chick in Baltimore, MD who watches Sci-Fi films in her down time and who doesn’t have dating apps on her phone and who deletes SnapChat like a boss.
But to keep things succinct, I’ll give one. What off-season training and Charles Darwin have in common is the theme of adaptation.
And looking back on this summer of training, one thing remains true: athletes must be placed in new environments under new loads in order to adapt. And with adaptation, comes growth.
Just like animals, we must be challenged with hardcore conditions to grow into our best selves and be able to survive the wild.
Alas, this isn’t news, folks. This is science.
And sorry if this is a mind fuck right off the bat.
But wait, should I drop the mic now?
We have to talk. This is serious.
Give me back the damn mic. We do have to talk. About off-season training. It’s serious.
What coaches, clubs, and parents need to know is off-season is the time to put athletes in an unfamiliar environment – an environment that overloads them, challenges them, and pushes their limits. And guess what? None of this can be accomplished during the season, otherwise athletes would 1) burn out 2) increase chance of injury and 3) change their sport to Fortnite.
During the season athletes are overloaded in these areas:
– Technical work
– 11v11 games
– COD/agility via small-sided games
– Anaerobic capacity
– Eccentric load
And during the off-season, athletes must be overloaded in these areas:
– Aerobic base
– Maximal Strength
– Maximal Speed
– Speed endurance
– Anaerobic capacity <— toward end of off-season as transition into pre-season
To that end, if we kept doing the same shit for each season, how would your athletes adapt?
Most likely, poorly due to the law of diminishing returns.
It’s science. And you sure as hell don’t want to argue with Charles Darwin, you asshat.
Expounding further, humans need new stressors in order to allow space for their body to adapt. After all, we’re animals, too.
Do you think a polar bear got to the polar ice caps and said, “shit, it’s fucking cold here” and refused to grow thick coat of hair?
No. It took being immersed in a new environment for that process to begin to protect his life.
The same goes for athletes: in order for them to become stronger, faster, and more resilient, they must be put in a new environment for a long period of time that overloads them and causes their physiology to adapt.
As an example, something like this didn’t happen overnight:
Not to mention, maximal upper body and core strength couldn’t have been accomplished if I didn’t place her in the gym environment under a periodized program that challenged her back strength and pushed the envelope with hypertrophy sets, strength sets, paused reps, and eccentric reps.
Or how about this:
Can you say contrast training?
Not too much of this can be overloaded in-season due to the high volume of team practices and games, but you bet we’re hammering this in the off-season so he actually becomes fast and powerful. Fast twitch muscle fiber recruitment. Post-activation potentiation. Power development.
Or how about this:
Acceleration training at 50% bodyweight.
Certainly, it’s difficult to incorporate this during a season due to the high amounts of load placed on the athlete.
So, when can we train acceleration? When can we train speed? When can we train maximal strength?
Off-season, you moron.
And all of these shenanigans circle back to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution: individuals must adapt in order to compete and survive.
Place your athletes in new environments, namely, environments that aren’t team camps, team trainings, and skills trainings, because THEY ALREADY WERE OVERLOADED WITH THAT SHIT ALL YEAR.
So I have an idea: place them in environments that hone maximal speed, maximal strength, and aerobic base training. You want these to get better, right?
This isn’t rocket science.
So then, when in-season approaches, do your athletes to be able to survive the wild?