It’s hard not to feel tired and rundown during the winter in northern climates, especially since it’s dark when you get up for school and come home after practice. But you can beat the winter blues and stay motivated by mixing up your routine.
“The days definitely shorten [during the winter], so your schedule gets changed, which can affect your mood. You sort of get cabin fever,” says Dr. Robert Bell, assistant professor of sport and exercise psychology at Ball State University. “When athletes [feel] stale, their motivation begins to [decline] and performance starts to drop.”
To prevent a stale attitude and maintain motivation, alter your daily routine. During workouts, mix in some competition, like scrimmages and testing drills. Dr. Bell says, “I recommend a lot of short breaks, while changing long, stagnant practices or training routines. Short, focused training is the most important thing. Keep it high intensity and short intervals [so you’ll] finish early.”
For off-season athletes suffering from winter letdown, Dr. Bell suggests competing in the weight room and setting goals. He says, “The biggest gains in skill development, technique and even mental toughness happen during the off-season. And the best way to frame it is by setting goals, which can be strength and speedoriented.”
Dr. Bell recommends incorporating cross-training routines to keep you upbeat and cheerful. Former Major League 1B Steve Garvey used to play racquetball and ping-pong during the off-season, which worked his hand-eye coordination.
Having fun and staying motivated through the winter months will leave you hungry for playoffs or ready to begin a new season.