There is a big difference between the type of training that an athlete should do during in-season, post-season, off-season and pre-season. Doing the wrong type of training at the wrong time is one of the biggest mistakes that I see athletes making. Here is a concise guide to training in different seasons.

Off-Season Training: Off-season is sometimes referred to as “the period between the end of the in-season, and about 6 weeks prior to the start of the next competitive year.”

The goal of off-season training is to gain strength and power. This is the time to avoid playing in your given sport and doing sport-specific cardio. It’s hard to believe, but these avoidances will make you a better player. During the off-season it is the prime time to build functional muscle, gain weight, and get your body used to a heavier carrying load. This is when you should push and push your body beyond your limits.  Your workouts can be longer (60-90 minutes), your overall volume of sets and reps can be higher, and you can do isometric holds, which you shouldn’t do while in-season (unless your sport requires it). Training during this season can be the time to address any physical imbalances inherent in your sport.

A good off-season training program will address the imbalances that each individual sport places on the athlete’s body. It should consist of light cardiovascular training, resistance training, and flexibility training.

Pre-Season Training:  This season should last for at least six weeks prior to the new in-season. According to Michael Boyle, the general purpose of pre-season training is to “prepare the athletes for the demands of the upcoming season. The objective is to design a sport specific conditioning program that will successfully prepare the team for the season…. Training must be a five day a week effort splitting the time between training and conditioning…. agility, flexibility, strength training and conditioning are all addressed to make a complete program.” e objective is

During the transition from off-season to pre-season, you need to focus on 2 objectives: (1) Increase specificity of your work. If, for example, during off-season, you developed some powerful lift derivatives, now, during pre-season, focus on sport specific acceleration drills and cutting-edge footwork. (2) Get your cardiovascular system ready for playing.


In-Season Training: Think Maintenance. During in-season training, you need to focus on staying healthy. If you are experiencing difficulty in recovering from your workouts, it is time to compensate by decreasing the amount of training you are doing. Many experts believe that during this period, you need to be spending most of your time on the playing field and not in the weight room.  Training should be tapered off (not eliminated though).  Your focus should be on unloaded speed work, mobility work, and foam rolling exercises. Remember, that during this season, your top priority must be to remain healthy and maintain.


Post-Season Training: There is no difference of opinion as to when post-season begins. It always begins just after your most important tournament of the season has come to an end. This is, at last, a chance to recover both physically and mentally. Don’t smile too broadly; I am not advocating couch potato status.

Instead, use this time to take up a totally different sport or an active hobby.  For example, many football players use the post-season to play golf. Also, if you have been injured during in-season, this is the time to, first of all, focus on your rehab.  And, second of all, focus on how you can prevent your specific injury in the next in-season. How long does post-season last? It is all up to how each individual’s mind and body is feeling. I recommend to forcing yourself to at least three weeks off.


I, and the staff at DC Strength Ohio wish all our athletes, no matter what your sport, a happy, healthy and successful transition from season to season.


Dustin Carnish