Rest is an important part of sports. The word rest seems like it means that you spend your time sleeping.
It does not! It means you’re doing a different sport or a lower intensity activity.
I divide rest into two major types:
1. Time away from one sport to do a different sport.
Recently I’ve noticed that many youth sports are happening year round. It’s not every sport and not every level, but I’ve treated many teens that don’t seem to have much of an off season.
This worries me.
Many professional athletes take time away to play a different sport when the season ends. It helps them recover after a long and difficult season. For younger athletes that are still growing, they can develop new motor skills from a different sport.
We’ve also heard of many skilled professionals who have grown up playing many sports. They did not focus on one sport until their late teens. The few that come to mind are (and were) the most skilled.
2. Rest during the season.
This is where you’ve planned rest days between training sessions. If you have a periodization program, rest times should be included.
Rest is vital to allow your body time to adapt to the training sessions.
Think of it as a rebuild. As the season progresses, training sessions become more complex and intense. Without the time for a proper rebuild, the body is always trying to catch up with patch work. This is when overtraining and burnout become a possibility.
I prefer to think of overtraining and burnout as a lack of rest versus too much training.
I understand it seems risky to take time away from your sport. It feels like your skills and performance will drop. They will...if you take months off but not for two weeks. The loss is small and short lived.
I had to explain this to many long distance athletes. They all feared they would fall behind in their training schedule. Unfortunately, the reason they were seeing me was because they were injured. Could they have avoided injury had they planned rest times?
How much better would their performance be had they planned rests in their training?