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Spring is a season of renewal and growth. Warmer weather, later daylight, the smell of freshly-cut grass in the air.
The crack of a baseball bat, the ping of a tennis serve.
As March turns to April, the season for outdoor sports starts anew. Whether you’re a runner, a golfer, a softball pitcher or an ultimate frisbee fan, spring offers a wealth of opportunities to play, improve your fitness and boost your skills.
However, with the change in weather and playing conditions, training for spring sports requires some adjustments.
Here’s a spring sports training guide to help you effectively prep for the season ahead.
When you’re coming off a winter break or transitioning from indoor sports to outdoor play, it’s important to ease into your new training regimen.
Start with a few easy workouts or drills to help your body adjust to the new demands of spring sports. Gradually increase the intensity and duration of your exercises over the course of several weeks. You’ll reduce your risk of setbacks or injury and set yourself up for success.
Here are a few easy exercises to help you get started again for spring sports:
Remember to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts to avoid injury. Always warm up before exercising and cool down afterward to help prevent muscle soreness and stiffness.
Whether the weather is cold, or you’re just starting a workout, your muscles and joints may be stiff. Dynamic warm-ups can help get your blood pumping to improve your performance, and reduce the chance of injury.
Dynamic warm-ups are a series of movements and exercises that mimic the actions of your sport. They increase your heart rate and prep your muscles for the work ahead. Unlike static stretches, dynamic warmups keep your body in motion, helping circulation while improving your range of motion.
A few types of dynamic warm up exercises to add to the mix:
Remember to start with smaller ranges of motion and gradually increase the intensity of your dynamic warmups to avoid injury.
Strong core muscles help athletes. Period. Your core muscles are the foundation of your athletic performance. They help you maintain balance, stability, and power. A strong core helps reduce the chance of a back injury, in particular.
To improve your core strength, include exercises that target your abs, obliques, and lower back, such as planks, side planks, and crunches. You can also incorporate exercises that challenge your balance, such as single-leg squats or standing on one foot while throwing a ball.
Here are some reasons why it’s important for athletes to work their core:
Bonus points: A strong core pays off at the beach. Six-pack abs, anyone?
Whether you’re running the bases, sprinting down the field, returning serve, or changing direction on a dime, spring sports often require quick bursts of motion.
To improve your speed and agility, incorporate drills such as ladder drills, cone drills, and shuttle runs.
For a fun enhancement to agility drills, train with a partner. Measure your results. Challenge each other to beat past performances and win head-to-head tests. You’ll have bragging rights all summer…
It’s always important to stay hydrated and fuel your body properly—warmer weather only raises the stakes. Dehydration can lead to cramps, fatigue, and poor performance.
Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workouts, and eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and complex carbohydrates. Proper nutrition can help you maintain energy levels, and recover quicker from workouts.
It’s crucial for athletes of all skill levels, from ultramarathoners to beer league softball players to drink plenty of fluids. (Not just beer.)
Sports are demanding on your body. Take rest and recovery time seriously. Get plenty of sleep each night, and give your muscles time to recuperate.
Here’s how rest and recovery can help an athlete:
Overall, rest and recovery are essential for athletes to achieve their full potential and maintain optimal health and performance.
Finally, set goals for yourself and track your progress throughout the spring season. Here are some ways to set and track goals in sports:
Overall, setting and tracking goals in sports is an important part of improving performance and achieving success. By monitoring key metrics, athletes can stay focused, motivated, and ready to crush their spring sports goals.
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