Similar to your regular season plan, your off-season plan should include nutrition.
The demands of the regular season and playoffs are over and suddenly you have hours in your day that no longer have to be devoted to tennis. It seems like it should be easy to enjoy this newfound freedom, but often the transition can feel unsettling, unless you have a plan.
Why do I need a plan?
Too often people head into the off-season without a plan. Without a clear focus for these few months, it is easy to make one of two very common mistakes: skipping the off-season or over-indulging in it. People who skip the off-season stick to their current training schedule and never allow their body (or mind) to recuperate from the demands of the regular season. People who over-indulge mistakenly view the off-season as a "rest" season and neglect their training entirely. Both mistakes can make the transition back to training difficult and unpleasant.
Tips for getting started
Similar to your regular season plan, your off-season plan should include nutrition. It ought to allow you the flexibility to enjoy and explore life outside of tennis, yet keep you from falling too far out-of-shape. Below are some tips to guide you in creating your personal off-season eating plan.
1. Explore, experiment, have fun! You have just spent months scrutinizing every meal to make sure it would provide you the right fuel to get you through your tennis match. "Experiment" was considered a bad word when it came to your food choices and you likely had your eating routine down to a science. The off-season is a time to take a step back from all of that. Remember that while food does provide fuel, it is also a source of pleasure. Take these next few months to rediscover your enjoyment of food. Explore new types of food, experiment with new flavors and recipes, and have fun! Sharing food with friends and family is one of life’s greatest joys.
Tip: Try cooking with yogurt! Use it in place of butter, cream, or oil, and you can enjoy your favorite recipes with significantly less fat and fewer calories.
2. Get back to the basics.
A nutrition plan during the training season can become repetitive. It is also likely to have quirks in it that make sense when the focus is making sure your body is prepared for the demands of a long tennis match but may not be the most effective way to nourish your body on a regular basis. Get back to the basics of a healthy eating plan. Challenge yourself to create meals that follow the MyPlate
guidelines. Vary your meals and work toward meeting your daily requirements for fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and key nutrients like calcium and vitamin D.
3. Keep it in check. While the off-season is a time to focus on enjoyment, it is not a time to completely ignore all of the good habits you developed during the regular season. It is fine to allow yourself an indulgence here and there, but it shouldn’t be an every day thing. Remember, you are exercising less during the off-season, which means you are burning fewer calories. If you completely ignore your nutrition plan, it can be very easy to gain a few unwanted pounds during this time.
Tip: Help keep your calorie intake in balance. Experiment with the MyPlate Super Tracker and have some fun analyzing and tracking your food intake and physical activity.