For many students the summer is the perfect time to unwind from the monotony of the semester, but student athletes don’t have that luxury. Their summers are the time to increase training and prepare for the next competitive season.
During a team’s athletic season, an immense amount of pain, sweat and determination goes into games in hopes of getting to the division championships. Though the competitive season is the highlight for many athletes, the offseason is where the bulk of a player’s growth happens physically and mentally. They have to do whatever it takes year round to improve their skills. Sometimes new training methods are implemented to make workouts different and fun, but new training doesn’t always mesh well with players.
“The summer is the time to get in whatever you need to get in. Every single day is a fight,” said Jordan Reudy, sophomore basketball player. “You don’t always get increasingly better during the season—as a team you do, but individually you don’t have the time to do all those workouts.”
Reudy recently transferred from Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, Calif., to the Gators, but he’s already getting into the offseason workout programs as well as his individual training. Reudy has a traditional mentality when it comes to training; he puts in the hard work in the gym by doing jumping workouts and gaining vertical inches.
In just about every level of competition, players must dedicate time and energy to offseason training, giving players a chance to improve their game and build on their skill set through various methods. Reudy has an open mind to do some of the other new training methods used by his team.
“We just started doing yoga as a team, and I can definitely tell it’s helping. It’s a pretty tough workout,” Reudy said. “It’s a lot about strength… Most people just think it’s just flexibility.”
Avoiding injuries and staying in game shape are some of the most crucial aspects of the offseason, which is why it is important to maintain training and eat healthy when the regular season has come to an end.
Junior volleyball player Kelsie Brennan has not had the leisure of focusing on the normal team practices since having ACL surgery five years ago. Each offseason is a battle to get healthy and maintain stamina, which has become progressively worse for her with each passing year.
“It’s just what happens, I guess,” Brennan said, who also struggles with a recurring patellar tendinitis. “With time it just wears down my tendon and weakens (it), so my tendon is a lot weaker than it used to be. It definitively gets frustrating because I can’t get up on time to hit the ball, and it slows me down sometimes.”
Nagging injuries can stall a player’s training in the offseason and take a toll emotionally. After she had been told by coaches that she needs to be more explosive, she focused on making her jump higher. She may have found the perfect outlet in beach volleyball during the offseason.
“That’s a good workout in itself because the sand is really tough to move in, jump in and to play in,” Brennan said. “I have become a smarter player since I started playing beach volleyball. I definitely learned a lot about placement, and I’ve gotten a lot better at serving.”
Workouts can only go so far if there isn’t a driving force to push them into competition. Junior wrestler Isaiah Jimenez is driven by the goals he wants to accomplish next year. He keeps his focus by remembering a critical loss from last season.
“I lost in overtime to an All-American so that match has been driving me all offseason so far,” Jimenez said. “So being pissed has been driving me… And I’m pretty sure it will drive me all freaking summer long. It still pisses me off.”
During his offseason, Jimenez has picked up barefoot training and has also began exercising outdoors in addition to doing his regular lifting in the gym.
“(Barefoot training) is a different type of running and it makes your muscles a lot more sore,” said Jimenez. “Whatever it takes to get more in shape (and) stronger.”
The offseason is the universal similarity with all sports. SF State athletes who are currently in the offseason from basketball, wrestling and volleyball all have different training regiments, but the drive to continue to improve is what links all of these athletes.
“Not everyone works as hard as you, and there’s some people that may work harder than you, but it’s all up to how good you want to be,” Reudy said. “You should know what you have to do. You should go out everyday and work your ass off. And if you don’t, you shouldn’t be on the team.”