The Best Way To Train For Your Upcoming Season

With fall sports season rapidly approaching, many athletes are now working to prepare for that first August practice.  There are so many elements of being 'in shape' for your sport that a workout can take many different forms.  You could be focusing on any one or more of the following:

- Speed

- Strength

- Mobility

- Balance/Coordination/Athleticism

- Conditioning

- Core Stability

- Explosive Power

Although it would be wonderful to train for excellence in all those areas, the reality is we have limited time and energy to devote to our workouts.  Especially since this list does not include sport skill development, jobs, academic demands, and all the other things that we must focus on in our daily lives.

So where should you focus?

An easy way to do so is by using a concept recently popularized in the book "Profit First", which is to think of each of the above categories as being an empty bucket, one that you are trying to 'fill'.   Filling a bucket in real life would mean adding water, but in this analogy it means filling it with ability

The size of each bucket is determined by the need for your sport.   For example, the conditioning bucket will be quite large for soccer and ice hockey but less so for baseball and golf.

Each sport has its own unique skill set needed for optimal performance.

Be honest about how much of that skill you currently possess in comparison to the level you play at.  How advanced are you in each skill presently? The better you are in a specific area compared to your peers, the more water you already have in that bucket.

Which of yours are full, and which are not?

If you are already in the top 5% for your age and position for a particular skill, think of that bucket as being close to or completely full.

Still with me?  

Good, let's take it one step further.

Now let's say you have a limited amount of water to add to the buckets, but you can add them in any way you'd like.   This water represents the improvements you'd achieve from your workout program.

If you fill a bucket that are already full, it overflows and you end up with the exact same skill-set you began with.  But if you fill the buckets that aren't full, you improve your overall profile.

And you become a better athlete.

Now remember, training time is limited, so there's only so much 'water' you can add in any given period of time.

Seen in this light, does it make sense that:

  • Many extremely fit athletes spend a majority of their training time doing cardio to 'stay in shape'?
  • Many contact sport athletes strength train 5 days per week while neglecting every other athletic skill?
  • With speed & agility being a very large 'bucket' in just about every sport, so little time is devoted to improving it for most athletes?

If you want your pre-season workouts to make a visible, impactful difference this year you should be focusing on the unfilled buckets.   There is nothing wrong with doing some work on the fuller ones to maintain your edge, but this should represent a smaller percentage of your time and effort.

And remember that as hard as it is to work on things you're not as good at, almost all athletes are making the same mistake.   Being the braver one will give you a huge competitive advantage over time.



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