Well, I’ve been off for a while now (the Florida Keys, baby!) and so have the kids I coach. Breaks are so important for athletes, especially for the younger ones. When I was a young Blue Dolfin in Central Florida, all the swimmers took 2 weeks off…mandatory! I know it seems like a long break, but it really wasn’t, because we never missed during season, period! NEVER.
We never missed, even if we were sick…Coach Harry Meisel always used to say that chlorine was good for everything, even ear aches! (I don’t think anyone ever missed a practice for an ear ache. Now doctors are saying, stay out for a week or so… oh please!) Anyway breaks are important!
Kids need to be kids! They need to do as many things as they can and have fun while they are young…as you know, it doesn’t last forever! So take a couple days/weeks-but don’t make a habit of it. Once of the biggest mistakes swimmers make is thinking they can still swim fast after a day off here and there. Eventually that backlog which you took so long to develop will diminish, and then you are back to square one! And that stinks!
Young and old bodies alike need time to reset and rest! The body needs time, especially if you train hard at whatever you do! You need to pull back and take time to change things up or just relax a week or so. No worries, you’ll bounce back, probably quicker and better than ever! I can remember (especially if you have that great backlog I was talking about) when we would take our time off and then the strength we were able to build a few months later seemed to be so much more intense. The rest to the body was amazing and well-deserved.
Mental Mush! Breaks truly help the mental strength as well. You definitely need to take breaks for this! So many times have I seen kids wear out their swimming mental capacities! When you see a kid just lose it and fail with almost everything athletic…it’s way overtime for a good break! That’s why the younger ones need yearly rest periods! At the Dolfins, we rest almost 3 weeks out of the year, in some cases, even more. (But when it’s time to train, it’s time to train!)
And you know what? Even we coaches need a break! Nuff said. HA!
And lastly, Stroke work–Pete and Re-peat (a Coach Harry Meisel saying)! Oftentimes strokes are compromised for hard training and need to be looked at again at their most basic form. So when we return after a break we usually spend at least two weeks getting our strokes back together to their most efficient technique. That way when it is time train tough again, we do it the correct way!
So when you think breaks are bad, think again. You need it! Whether it’s resetting your kid-time (even us old guys), resting your fatigued muscles and body, mentally return to greatness or “pete” and repeating the proper stroke techniques—take the time! I mean it!