A hard summer’s workout

Athletes sweat it out during the off-season to prepare for another year, keep their roster spots

Men’s hockey head coach Brett Gibson says athletes have more time to train neccessary muscle groups during the off-season.
Men’s hockey head coach Brett Gibson says athletes have more time to train neccessary muscle groups during the off-season.
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Chris Barrett, a Gael's rugby wing, said athletes avoid alcohol when the season is looming.
Chris Barrett, a Gael's rugby wing, said athletes avoid alcohol when the season is looming.
Photo: 

For some students, summer’s a time to head home to find minimum-wage jobs, clock some patio time and lead stress-free lives on the dime of charitable parents.

Most varsity athletes, though, spend their summers hitting the gym trying to prepare for the upcoming season. The off-season may not be filled with intense competition, but it’s still a crucial component of an athlete’s training.

Queen’s men’s hockey head coach Brett Gibson said athletes have more time to train necessary muscle groups during the off-season.

“In hockey specifically, off-season training is the main time an athlete has to build muscle and prepare for the up-coming season,” he said. “In-season, players don’t have as much time. [Their] main focus is to maintain their muscle they built up in the off-season.”

Gibson said off-season training is important because after a long season, athletes have depleted muscle mass.

“Most of the players I ask to put back on muscle they have lost in season. Some players can drop up to 15 pounds in a season,” he said.

Although the off-season lacks a competitive atmosphere, Gibson said that players are motivated “I think there is more motivation in the off-season because there will always be a new recruit coming in looking to take a veteran’s spot on the team,” he said.

Gibson said if athletes want to maintain their competitive edge, they can’t expect to relax all summer long.

“The off-season, I feel, is just as vital as the in-season,” he said. “Gone are the days you come to training camp to get in shape. If players do that they’d better be prepared to lose their position on the team.”

Chris Barrett, a wing on the men’s rugby team, is playing with the Canadian under-20s team this summer. He said off-season training requires athletes to put in more time in the gym.

“During the off-season, my workouts tend to have more goals of large gains of strength and speed as compared to in-season when it is just for maintenance.”

Although the off-season is an important part of any athletic career, Barrett said that athletes cut themselves some slack.

“I think athletes definitely give themselves more leeway in the off-season,” he said. “After being so focused during the regular season, most athletes need some time to recover. But as the season nears, I think athletes tend to steer clear from alcohol again.”

Barrett said that motivation is not an issue in the off-season.

“Personally, it hasn’t been hard to stay motivated to train after the rugby seasons the past two years,” he said. “Since we have lost the past two years in the finals, I know that our team is training hard so that we can get there again and this time finally win it all.”

Once the season ends, Barrett said he prefers to continue his involvement in his sport as much as possible.

“Since rugby is such a short season in Ontario I try to play in all the out of season games as possible because no training can compare to playing games. As well, I find watching professional games can help you learn more about the game,” he said.

Freyah Durand, a goalie for the women’s lacrosse team, is spending her summer tending the net for the Mississauga Trilliums. She said athletes spend more time conditioning their body during the off-season, as opposed to the focus on the sport itself during the season.

When the season ends, Durand said her diet changes too.

“I eat healthier during the season, not because I know I should but because my body is just hungrier for the healthy stuff,” she said.

Durand said that the more time athletes take off from training will ultimately affect their performance.

“If you don’t play the game over the summer, I imagine it’s like anything else; if you don’t use it, you lose it.”

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