As the school year ends, it's time to formulate a game plan to outperform next season's opponents.
That objective starts with your offseason conditioning program, which is fundamental for getting stronger, faster or bigger; preventing injury; and getting the edge on your competition.
Often overlooked, however, is preparing for your opponents outside the weight room for your sport during the following school year.
Below are strategic suggestions to get the inside track on surpassing next season's competitors.
Ask your coach about an opponent's strengths and/or weaknesses
Coaches and managers assess an opponent's strengths and weaknesses firsthand. So make them your first go-to contact for questions on how, for example, to attack a star linebacker, or bat against an All-State pitcher, or face a tough foe on the tennis court next season.
Additionally, coaches and managers can help you improve upon your strengths, address your weaknesses and make adjustments—e.g., by focus more on optimizing agility, speed or flexibility to defeat a difficult opponent from the past season.
Watch game film
Viewing game film of both yourself and your competition in action is an excellent teaching tool for simultaneously furthering your skills. When observing film, take notes on the athletic movements and characteristics of your opponents for convenient recall on game day.
Scout your opponent
Observing opponents live as a spectator at summer league or club sports events and jotting notes is another wonderful way to optimally prepare for facing them during the regular season.
Playing against your opponent during the offseason
Another great way to brush up on your skills is to actually play against your competition during offseason league or club sports contests. Participating in summer wrestling or tennis matches against potential opponents throughout the school year, for example, is another way to improve your game by refining your technique or making necessary alterations before your next meeting on the field, court, ice or mat.
Changing your diet and sleep habits
Were you fatigued or lacking energy this past season? Your diet or sleep routine could have been contributing factors, causing mental and physical lapses against your competitors. Enhance both your academic and sports performance starting this fall by consuming more nutrient-dense foods and beverages (e.g., more water and water-based fruits and vegetables to aid sports and exercise recovery) and aiming for at least 8-9 hours of sleep per night.
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