Coaching Academy: off-season or train through?

Coaches are often confronted with this question at the end of the season. Breaks in the season are just as much a part of training as the taper phase before a competition, for example. Marc Pschebizin “Mister Inferno” and three-time Coach of the Year of the Trier region explains why body and mind also need a long recovery once to reach new performance levels afterwards at full throttle..

Author: Marc Pschebizin

The whole year is about how athletes move their bodies to the ideal top shape. As an athlete, I try to train in a sophisticated and focused way, eat the best possible diet, get enough sleep … You all know it. At some point there comes a point where you would like to let yourself go. To train in an unstructured way and to go a bit overboard. Exactly then you are ready for the “off-season”.

Off-season does not mean doing nothing.

I recommend that my athletes keep the amount of training to a minimum, especially during this time. The off-season is also great for trying out new sports or stimuli. In addition to the “train as you go” principle, an important focus during this phase is on making new plans for the sporting future. Of course it is important to let sport be sport once in a while. But you’ll notice it in yourselves: after two, maybe three weeks of “dolce vita”, the fire for the next season reignites in you. The thoughts for your sport come automatically. The motivation, which the Dalai Lama, of whom I am a great fan, sees as the seed of every positive and negative human action, you will then feel more strongly. I have put together a small catalog of measures for you so that you can draw more from your inner motivation (also intrinsic motivation).

Targets make the way clear

All beginnings require a goal. Therefore, it is also the most important prerequisite for our motivation. Because:

He who does not know the port to which he wants to sail, for him no wind is the right one.”

Philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 BC – 65 AD) on the need to set goals in life. 

Your goal should be positive. That means it should be realistic, challenging and measurable. In the off-season as a transition period, I sit down with my athletes as a coach and ask them to tell me their goals for the coming year with the mission statement: “Where exactly do I want to go? By what means do I want to get there? Where do I see myself in the foreseeable future, so what is my future goal state?” This is where visualization has always helped me personally, as well as writing it down. AZUM is my wonderful helper for this, to record the goals and make them tangible for the athletes* in the training planning and thus to inspire their motivation (you can find out how here or in the talk with the AZUM pros). Writing it down also has another advantage: I personally hang a piece of paper with the goal on my mirror, for example, so that I always have it in front of my eyes (but more on that in my next blog here at AZUM). 

Success becomes more tangible with partial steps.

Many start highly motivated, but simply do not finish. After a short time, they lose desire and motivation to continue. To prevent this, high, highly challenging goals should always be broken down into subgoals. Not only does it become more realistic to reach the main goal. The small partial successes of the intermediate goal are also a motivation boost for you. In a survey of Olympic and world champions, it wasn’t those who focused exclusively on the big goal and actually counted the prize money before winning who were particularly successful. Rather, it was those for whom the path to victory was the actual goal who were successful. I therefore always develop process goals with my athletes. They guide the focus on the present moment and the task required in the here and now. This increases concentration and attention to the essentials. With this strategy, they remain sustainably motivated over a long distance, which paves the way to the main goal and thus to success. 

Plausible annual periodization structures clear.

These process goals are then also reflected in the training planning. Therefore, sit down with your coach and create an annual periodization. A training plan that is overloaded, has no red thread and shows no increase, frustrates. Therefore, the questions should be answered, which goals and subgoals do I want to achieve when and with which means. Exact deadlines support and oblige in equal measure. This creates a training plan that is plausible for athletes and makes sense, which in turn motivates them. 

Positive people give energy.

From psychology, we know the term peer group research, which states, among other things, that the better my team, the better I am. With this in mind, we should therefore try to build a positive network. This means gaining supporters and friends who help us realize our goals and provide positive energy. We can use the latter in a targeted way, because we become highly energetic ourselves. As an example, I always like to use the motivating training group, the coach, or even the family. All of them can serve as an important companion in training from time to time. By the way, this is where goals come into play again: If you share the long-term goal with many friends and acquaintances, it helps to achieve it because it avoids excuses.

Understanding between coach & athlete*in creates trust and encourages.

It is well known that there can often be a wide gap between self-perception and the perception of others. Working with a coach or mentor creates a feeling of security and encourages every athlete. As a coach, I naturally have to ask myself whether it is difficult to motivate people. A good coach always focuses on the realistic goal and picks up the athletes where they are. Therefore, the coach should always ask how the athlete feels at the moment and check, either in conversation or using the monitoring functionality of AZUM, whether intermediate goals have been achieved. In this way, coaches can slow down or motivate at the right moment. How is this done? They always give the athletes the feeling of appreciation and participation in their projects or goals, which has a strengthening and reinforcing effect! 

Hurdles become opportunities with self-discipline and willpower.

As we have already seen, the focus on the moment is important. In this way we can avoid external disturbances or we can circumnavigate them more easily. Problems and obstacles will always occur. But it makes a decisive difference what significance I attach to them. 

Whoever sees failure only as a small detour never loses sight of his goal.”

Martin Luther

Small defeats or obstacles can also be seen as an opportunity and a challenge. Failure is absolutely no disgrace, a Jan Frodeno also remarked in an interview.

Yes, I can do it!

It is central to complete goals in order to tackle new goals in turn. If I am self-effective, then I also succeed. Mantras like “I can definitely do this!” can release high energy in the race and help achieve goals. Personally, it helped me to 10 victories at the Inferno Triathlon, because sometimes you just have to mentally outsmart your tired body 😉

Finally, I share with you a quote from one of the greatest athletes and role models ever in terms of motivation. It has become my personal motto in life:

He who is not brave enough to take risks will never achieve anything in life.”

Muhammad Ali

With this in mind, I wish you all a good off-season, stay motivated and most importantly healthy.

Euer Marc.

Marc Pschebizin – Mister Inferno
Marcs sporting achievements are impressive: He has been doing competitive sports since he was 12 years old. Marc started in track and field in middle and long distance running before touring the world as a triathlon and duathlon professional for 20 years. During his professional career he has won prestigious awards: he counts 10 victories at the Inferno Triathlon, is Duathlon and XTERRA World Champion, besides being Ironman and Gigathlon winner. Today, Marc brings athletes to top performances with great success, including Jens Roth (5-time German Champion Cross-Triathlon, German Champion Cross-Duathlon, Vice European Champion Cross-Triathlon). He is also head coach of the triathlon national league team PSD Bank Tri Post Trier. Since 2019 AZUM system supports him to plan training programs and to monitor and analyze the progress of his athletes. His performance alongside the athletes is excellent: For three years in a row, namely from 2017 to 2019, he was recognized as “Coach of the Year” of the Trier region.

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