Back to the Grind: Your Guide to Crushing the Transition to a New Season

Shane Trotter

Coach

Mansfield, Texas, United States

Strength and Conditioning, Kettlebells, Youth Development

Dear High School and College Athletes,

 

Let’s be honest. Your summer habits are not that healthy. I know you attended summer workouts, but what did the other 160 hours of your week look like? You’d roll out of bed after four hours of sleep and will your body through the day’s training. Feeling accomplished, and hungry from skipping breakfast, you’d hit the drive-through for nuggets and a Mcflurry, or maybe those Jack in the Box tacos with a Slurpee. Then it was back to your house, or your buddy’s.

 

 

Either way, your choice was the same: Fortnite. I’m not sure what that is, but I do know you missed a few of those summer training sessions because you stayed up playing till 5 am. After playing Fortnite for a few hours, you fall asleep only to be awakened by your mother’s call. She’s proud of you for making it to workouts this morning. You wander into the kitchen and grab some Oreos to snack on while scanning social media on the couch. Feeling blah, you grab a soda and head back to Fortnite.

 

These patterns alternate from day to day. Some nights you may have had to work. Some weeks you may have spent on vacation. Maybe, you even accomplished something productive as a summer class. However, the general facts remain. Summer is full of sugar, sitting, broken, superficial sleep, and the victory of impulse over discipline. It’s hardly a primer for successfully transitioning to the hectic pace of a season.

 

There is no need to panic, but let’s get serious. The season is right around the corner and with it comes academic rigor, practice, film, training, and treatment. All stress is cumulative. Without a plan of action, you’ll quickly become overwhelmed and susceptible to breaking down. That’s where I come in.

 

It Starts With Sleep

Since entering the league in 2003, Lebron James seems to get better in each of his 15 seasons. He plays more minutes and longer seasons than anyone else in the league, yet his body does not break. How is this even possible? While you can’t discount nutrition, consistency, and great genetics, sleep is probably the greatest secret to Lebron’s physical resiliency. He averages 12 hours per night and he is not the only one.

 

Other consistent champions sleeping 10 plus hours per night include Roger Federer, Serena Williams, and Usain Bolt. The timeless Tom Brady clocks in 9 hours. He’s up at 5:30 am, but in bed by 8:30. And there are reasons other than heightened performance. A 2014 study indicated that athletes between grades 7 and 12 who slept less than eight hours per night were 1.7 times more likely to be injured during a season than those who slept 8 or more hours per night. See Lack Of Sleep Increases Injury Rate In Teenage Athletes for more.

 

Sleep is the most essential component in your body’s recovery. It is when your body adapts to stress and grows back stronger. Conversely, lack of sleep leaves your body under-recovered, sluggish, and in a frail, weakened state. Increase recovery and you increase adaptation and power output. Sleep is the greatest natural performance enhancer available.

 

Now let’s be honest. Most athletes aren’t even sleeping 7 hours per night. Sure you sleep in on weekends, but that isn’t good enough. Nothing sticks without consistency and consistency is built from habits. Fortnite, bedroom TV’s, excessive sugar, and a life immersed in social media conspire to leave your brain chronically stimulated.

 

Additionally, the adolescent biology inclines you towards later hours incompatible with early school start times. Sorry. Getting your sleep back on schedule will require creating the right environment and staying consistent. You better start now. Here’s how:

 

  • Determine a consistent bedtime and wake-up time. You’ll want these times to be compatible with the schedule you’ll have to keep throughout the season.
  • In the hour before bed, put your phone on a charger outside of your bedroom and leave it alone. The blue light emitted by phones is extremely stimulating to the brain. I know you feel compelled to socialize, but you really aren’t missing out on anything. Being slightly mysterious and taking your efforts seriously will be far more attractive to others than quirky midnight tweeting. Life is about trade-offs.
  • Buy an alarm that is not connected to your smartphone.
  • Create a calming ritual for the hour before you go to bed. Prep your breakfast, pack your lunch, brush your teeth, lay out your clothes, and stage a perfect morning. If you’ve been stressed, make a list of items you have to do the next day. Reading fiction works wonders for me.
  • Reserve your bed for sleep only. No television or texting in bed. In fact, get the TV out of your room. Life is about trade-offs.
  • If it takes longer than 30 minutes to go to sleep, get up and do something that makes you tired. You want your brain to associate the bed with a calm sleep, not frustration.
  • Consider buying a noise machine.
  • For more help on sleep and mental relaxation check out my Foundations of a Healthy Lifestyle Course.

 

 

Nutrition

Successful people tend to have boot down (evening) and boot up (morning) routines. I suggest establishing a quick morning routine. Before you check the phone, eat breakfast. As an in-season athlete, you’ll want consistent breakfast, snacks, and lunches.

 

Make this easy by planning these meals in advance, talking to your parents about groceries, and taking 30 minutes to prepare on Sunday. Success is built from good habits and routines. You’ll want to aim for lean meats, fruits, vegetables, eggs, mixed nuts, beans, and whole grains. If 80% of what you eat is bought on the periphery of the grocery store, you’re probably good.

 

Training

So you skipped all the summer training? You’re out of shape and panicking. Well, you are in luck, because there is a secret method of developing elite power and conditioning in just a few days. Gotcha! There really isn’t.

 

Back to the Grind: Your Guide to Crushing the Transition to a New Season - Fitness, fitness, stress, rest and recovery, high school athletes, game plan, meal planning, sleep deprivation, healthy eating, nutrition plan, meal prep

 

Training is all about consistency. Each workout offers a small incremental improvement that adds up over time. Remember this feeling of regret and disappointment in yourself. That pain is a great teacher.

 

For those of you who have been training, stay consistent, but taper back. You’ll want to be used to the heat, but fresh in the legs.

 

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