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Coaching The Transition From Sport Performance To Fitness

I've had the privilege of working with some phenomenal high school and college athletes over the last few years. I've had some who have had great careers and their time in sport has come to bittersweet close, and I've had some who have had their sport careers stripped away from them as a result of injuries or uncontrollable circumstance. In this, I find it important to address the need for continued training throughout their lifespan. Not necessarily with me as a coach, but for their own health and benefit.

Powerlifter. Powerlifting. Athlete resting.
One of the Littauer Strength athletes staring at a barbell during a powerlifting training session, which is a competitive outlet we teach to some of our athletes transitioning out of traditional sports.

Often, we forget how sport inevitably ends as we know it. We may become weekend warriors or find some recreational activity we aim to keep healthy for, but the way which we know competitive sport in our youth or early adult years ultimately ends. And in this, we must be aware the need to continue training for the sake of our health and well being.

I've been working with several recently who are in this transition, and I find it worthwhile to discuss three major focal points we have as part of our training. Especially when it comes to those who specified in sport early, or were limited in their early training histories, we have to address a few things:

  1. This is a Marathon and not a sprint. We don't need to "peak for life," because life is ongoing and moving at all times. We slow the training process down, learn to focus on the process of learning new skills and training styles, and focus on becoming more well rounded human beings.

  2. We learn new skills/revisit old skills. We need to remember how in sport performance we are trying to create an imbalance towards specific qualities which will allow the sport skills to be learned and displayed. In general health and fitness, we're looking at creating a robust and more balanced skill set in the realms of strength, power, speed, and conditioning (I'll stand on the fact adults need power and speed in their training in some doses). In training we need to learn different exercises or techniques which may have been foregone due to not contributing to imbalance needed for high performance.

  3. We need to make training fun. Again, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Finding a style of training which can yield results without being monotonous for the individual is huge. Some people really do like simple and repeating workouts. They like to repeat the same 4-5 workouts for long periods of time before they get bored. Others need constant variance and change for it to maintain some excitement. Finding the style of training, and teaching the individual how to structure and organize their workouts, can be key for making lasting changes as they pursue this endeavor called life.

Now, there's a lot more which can be said about either of these things. But for some basic key principles, I find these hold true. So whether or not you work with some former athletes, or are one yourself, who are in the transition from sports to general fitness these can be some great tips to help structure your training and get you moving in the right direction of building lasting fitness.

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