Lifts, workouts provide opportunity to stay fit prior to spring season
or many athletes, the winter season means the beginning of sports like soccer and basketball. For others, it means the start of preparation for spring sports.
With after school practices, lifts in the weight room and conditioning, the winter provides a time for spring-sport athletes that are not participating in a winter sport to stay in shape before the start of the season. Many players call this period “off-season,” when in reality, it’s anything but. To varsity women’s lacrosse captain, junior Camryn Kowaleski, pre-season plays a large role in determining the fate of the upcoming season. She believes that stick work and conditioning are pivotal to the team’s overall success.
“Preseason sets the tone for the rest of the year in terms of spring sports,” Kowalewski said. “It’s a great way to bond while working hard and getting stronger as a team. We always encourage people to play sports in the winter if they want to because it helps them stay in shape and be with other girls who work hard, but we try to emulate that atmosphere in the off-season for those girls that choose not to play a sport as well.”
According to Kowalewski, a normal off-season practice for her and the women’s varsity Lacrosse team includes stick-work drills, sprinting and endurance running and injury prevention weight lifting.
“We usually do a lift on Monday and Wednesday and running on Tuesday and Thursday,” Kowalewski said. “However, we do stick work in the form of wallball every day. We will do drills from time to time, but wallball is a consistent way to make sure everyone is getting practice with their stick.”
Pre-season sets the tone for the rest of the year in terms of spring sports.Camryn Kowalewski
As for the lifts, Kowalweski says they are an integral part of the preseason process, noting that working your muscles is just as important as working your heart.
“Everyone, regardless of how much weight you use, gets stronger from the lifts twice a week,” Kowalweski said. “Coach Mosley does a great job at integrating exercises that benefit everyone, no matter what sport. We work hard in the weight room for an hour twice a week and you really see it pay off.”
Senior lacrosse player Eli Huggins notes that the preseason practices are about more than just getting fit. In practicing with the team for a few months before the season actually starts, the players are more bonded going into the season, allowing for a more seamless transition into the regular practices.
“I definitely think that pre-season gives us a chance to really get to know our teammates and connect with them before we actually start getting into the nitty-gritty of the season,” Huggins said. “I know it can be pretty daunting to be new to the team, or even the school, and thrown into the season in the spring, so it provides a valuable opportunity to form relationships with the guys that you’ll be practicing with for the rest of the year.”
In addition to simply being out on the field practicing with teammates, the men’s lacrosse team makes a point to incorporate team building and bonding exercises into their off-season workouts, something that can’t be said about every team.
“On the days that we don’t have a lift, we do this thing called the Taco challenge,” Huggins said. “Basically, it’s a giant competition that lasts the whole preseason. At the beginning of preseason, we all got divided into four teams, each with a senior team leader, and we do different competitions with them throughout the preseason. We do mile races, push-up challenges and other things. At the end of preseason, our coach takes the team with the most wins out for tacos! It’s a really fun way to incentivize players to work hard and just bring the team together overall.”
Director of Sport Performance and middle school physical education instructor Phil Mosley coaches both in-season and off-season lifts, acknowledging that the latter is crucial for laying the foundation for future seasons.
“It’s a time when ideally, you’re not playing your sport,” Moseley said. “We need to get in the weight room and work on getting stronger, more powerful, and more explosive so that you’re able to handle the rigors of your season when it starts.”
An important aspect of lifting is the prevention of future injuries. Often, the lifts do more to train your muscles to withstand injury then to increase muscle mass.
“Injury prevention is the number one reason we lift weights,” Mosley said. “Lifting weights helps against injuries because it trains the body to handle forces similar to those you would experience in your sport.”
Another major difference between in-season and off-season lifts is how long they are and how physically demanding they can be.
“In-season lifts usually only last 30 minutes whereas off-season lifts run for about 45 minutes to an hour,” Mosley said. “Off-season lifts are longer because there is more training volume in the weight room whereas in-season lifts are shorter and less volume because the majority of athletes’ time is spent playing and practicing their sport.”