Postseason R&R: Get ready for the preseason
Rest InjuriesEven if players don’t have an acute injury like a sprain or a fracture, they likely still have others from repeat trauma. The time between postseason and preseason is often the only time for players to heal completely. Encourage the whole team to take at least a small amount of time to rest their bodies before they dive into offseason workouts.
Strength training and balance training can help prevent injuries. As players spend time working on balance, they gain better awareness of where the body is in space. This helps players take a tackle better or not fall awkwardly. By working on things like yoga or Pilates, football players can improve balance and gain a better awareness of posture. These types of exercises strengthen ankles, knees and wrists, which are prime injury locations.
Does your school have a dietician? Is there someone local who would give a couple classes to your players? If not, make sure you inform your players about how proper diet can improve their ability to perform at a higher level. Perhaps have a mini cooking class for the whole team to practice quick and simple healthy recipes that might take the place of a fast food run during season.
Get the whole team on board about drinking enough water, too. Make it clear that things like energy drinks and soda aren’t going to have any benefit on football or long-term health. Set a goal of water to drink every day, and have each player create some sort of log showing how much they drank each hour or morning, afternoon and evening. This information can help make players be more aware of when they’re missing out on hydration.
Intangibles Like Sleep and Stress
Stress can cause sleep problems, poor dietary choices, and can impact health. Research shows that high school students don’t sleep nearly as much as they should, so coaches need to encourage players to work towards better quality and longer sleep. This will go multifold — it will help academic performance, help injury recovery, increase alertness and help prevent illness.
“Blue” light must be avoided near bedtime. This type of light emanates from smart device screens and computers and impairs the natural circadian rhythm, which makes sleep harder to catch. This is tricky with Generation Z since they spend so much time online, so maybe suggest your players charge their phones in a place not near their bed. Make it a team goal to increase sleep by an hour a night prior to the start of next season.
All of these tips will increase football performance and make your team more resilient. Start by outlining expectations and having each player read and sign that they agree to what you’ve outlined. By creating standards and expectations around sleep, diet and recovery, coaches can help set up players for success on the football field, in the classroom and in future life.
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