To keep the desire to train and drill high during the long off-season you can use a simple method that has been proven effective for treating the overweight and rehabilitating heart patients. It's called contracting.
Recommendation: Behavior contracting is a sure way to avoid staleness and can be readily applied to enhance training and practice compliance. There are five steps involved:
1. Define the problem. Specify in behavioral terms what the athlete is not doing. For example, a basketball player is not spending the extra time necessary after practice to improve free throw percentage.
2. Define the goal. Get the player to make the commitment to shoot free throws for 15 minutes after practice.
3. Define control strategies. Provide specific cues which will help remind the player to execute the desired play. Examples include setting up a specific time for shooting free throws, putting a poster of Michael Jordan on their locker for inspiration, or having a competition with another player to make the extra practice time more challenging.
4. Define the contract. Put the goals, cues, rewards and punishments in writing. Prior to the season, you must set up the specific rewards and punishments for compliance or non-compliance to the program. Both the player and coach must actually sign the contract.
5. Monitor and evaluate the program and implement the proper rewards or punishments.
P.S. The process will only be effective if the athlete understands what the program's goals are and what the rewards or consequences will be.
Thomas Collingwood, Ph.D.