Your guide to off-season football training

This article seeks to explore each of these questions and equip you with the knowledge to maximise your time ahead of the next competitive season.

Ahh the football off-season...

A time to relax and sip on a few cocktails? Or is it grind-time and a period to go beast-mode? Maybe it's a happy medium somewhere in between?

All we know is that the football off-season has been made into something quite the highlight in the footballing world. Popularised by topless pics of players training "hard" or fast-paced video montages at sought after destinations, it really is a catwalk for professional athletes!

But what should the off-season actually be utilised for? How should you actually spend your time? And what are the key do's and don'ts to ensure you are returning back to pre-season in suitable condition? This article seeks to explore each of these questions and equip you with the knowledge to maximise your time ahead of the next competitive season.

What is the football off-season period?

The off-season period in football is a transitional phase between the end of one competitive season and the beginning of pre-season for the next. Its length varies depending on factors like the league's schedule, the player's level of play, and any international commitments. This period offers a unique opportunity for players to rest, reflect, and engage in activities outside of their rigorous football schedules.

Why is the football off-season useful?

The football off-season stands out as a vital period for players, offering more than just a break from the regular season's intensity. Here's why it's so beneficial:

Recovery and reflection

This phase allows players to physically recuperate from the season's demands, reducing the risk of overuse injuries. It's also a moment for introspection on personal performance and team dynamics.

Enjoyment & time away from football

A mental break is crucial. Engaging in different activities or simply taking time off helps refresh the mind, ensuring players return with renewed passion and focus.

A time for self-development

Players can use this period to broaden their horizons beyond football, acquiring new skills, exploring other interests, or furthering their education. This holistic development is beneficial both on and off the pitch.

Preparation for pre-season

The off-season is an opportunity to lay the groundwork for the upcoming season. By focusing on physical conditioning, addressing any weaknesses, and mentally preparing for the challenges ahead, players can ensure they return in peak condition.

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How long is the football off-season?

The duration of the off-season in football varies and is influenced by several factors, including the conclusion of the season, the commencement of pre-season team training, and the player's competitive level. For some, the season might end as early as May, with others concluding in June. The return to pre-season activities could see players back as soon as mid-June or as late as mid-July. Additionally, commitments to international duties can further affect the off-season's length, making it a period with a flexible timeline tailored to individual circumstances. This is likely to be the case at the end of this season with Euro 2024 taking place!

Off-season DON'TS

Don’t be idle.

It's essential to strike a balance during the off-season. Avoid falling into a trap of laziness, inactivity, and poor dietary choices. Social interactions are also crucial for mental health, so keep engaging with friends and family to maintain a happy and healthy body, mind and soul.

Don’t train like your life depends on it.

Smart training is key. Overtraining can be as detrimental as undertraining. It's important to listen to your body and adopt a balanced approach to fitness and skill development. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and season-long discipline will always be trumps. A month of training too hard will never out-do a year of consistent and smart training.

Don’t just play ball.

While it may seem counterintuitive, taking a break from football can reignite your passion for the game. Continuous play without adequate rest can lead to burnout and increase the risk of injury. Use this time to rest and recuperate and explore other skills that can benefit your football indirectly.

Don’t leave it too late.

Procrastination is the enemy of progress. A gradual return to fitness over four to six weeks is far more beneficial than a panicked rush in the last two. Manage your off-season schedule to avoid injury and ensure you're in optimal shape for pre-season.

Off-season DO'S

Do rest and reflect.

Take time to relax and ponder your achievements and areas for improvement. This mental break can rejuvenate your passion and focus for the game.

Do explore and learn.

The off-season is the perfect opportunity to engage in activities outside of football. Whether it's learning a new language, exploring different cultures through travel, or trying out a new sport, expanding your horizons can enrich your life and broaden your perspective.

Do improve the big rocks.

Focus on enhancing key areas of physical fitness—strength, power, cardiovascular health, and mobility. These foundational elements are crucial for peak performance.

Do attack your physical limitations and bolster your strengths.

Identify areas of weakness and dedicate time to transforming them into strengths, while also continuing to refine and enhance your strong points.

Do prepare mentally and spiritually.

Consider how you can evolve not just as a player, but as a person. Reflect on and plan your goals for the coming season and detail the steps towards how you can achieve them.

Do complete a progressive exercise plan.

Design and follow a tailored exercise plan that bridges the gap from the end-of-season rest to the demanding pre-season period. This plan should progressively build your fitness and readiness for the challenges ahead.


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Your guide to off-season football training
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