Garrett Aleckson —
For student-athletes of sports such as football, basketball and gymnastics, the regular season is over. A common misconception might be that the athletes now have a lot of time off, or don’t spend as much time on their sport once the season is over.
“I don’t think a lot of people really understand what athletes go through. It’s become a year-round commitment for them,” said University of Wisconsin–Stout women’s basketball head coach Mark Thomas.
After a long season, a rest from the sport is much-needed for the players.
“We give them three weeks off to let them heal their bodies and refocus. We keep in contact over those three weeks, but we don’t have structured activities,” said Thomas. “After spring break, we get into our spring activities.”
They have an open gym so the players can go in and improve their game. They also have a strength and conditioning schedule to keep them in shape.
“We do four days a week of strength and conditioning. We try to cram as much as we can into one hour, because we are trying to be respectful of their time,” said UW–Stout women’s basketball assistant coach Brittany Herrick.
While National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules do not allow coaches to monitor summer training, they try to help the players in ways allowed by the NCAA.
“We provide our players with a workout manual for the summer. We also try to stay connected to keep them informed of what’s going on with the program,” said Thomas.
For the UW–Stout football team, their off-season philosophy is one word.
“Our philosophy is progress—keep progressing so we’re at full strength for the season,” said football head coach Clayt Birmingham.
Their training schedule is also four days a week, but they do their training in a different manner.
“Our off-season consists of different phases. We have the guys build up mass early. Then, as we get closer to the season, we do more conditioning so they’re ready for the season,” said Birmingham.
Rather than just focusing on progress of the entire team, they try to get progress from everyone on the team individually.
“We talk to each player to try to help them. We do some tests to see where they are at, and then set goals with them—and prepare our program based off of that,” said Birmingham.
But there’s more than just training for football.
“Off-season is a time to do community service, to fundraise and work hard in the weight room—and get bigger, faster and stronger,” said Birmingham.
For the UW–Stout gymnastics team, they have two weeks off after the season.
“My favorite thing about the off-season is resting my body. There’s not as much pounding,” said Kaylee Jondahl (Jr, Elk River, Min.).
Once school gets out, it might be harder for athletes to get their training in. But Jondahl is still able to train during the summer.
“There is a gym close to my house. When I go in, I focus on specific skills rather than full routines, and do some work on endurance, in order to do full routines,” said Jondahl.
Getting help with training and having self-motivation is huge for athletes during the season or during the off-season. Not being around the team and being on your own can make things harder.
“My least favorite thing is being away from my teammates. It’s hard to stay motivated and keep pushing myself sometimes,” said Jondahl.
Improving takes a lot of time—and the coaches notice that commitment.
“It’s cool to see the commitment that the athletes are making,” said Thomas “You hear this cliché all the time that there really is no off-season, and it couldn’t be more true nowadays.”