5 Ways to Have an Effective Pre Season
Those of you who play season based sports such as football or rugby are probably on the cusp of pre-season training before launching yourselves towards glory in your chosen competition. Do you want to improve on last season’s performance? Have you thought about how to best use pre-season to ensure better future performance? Well below are a few general points about how to best approach this crucial stage of the season…..
1 – Have you had a rest?
A lot of injuries can be traced to overuse or continuous training at a high level so the first part of an effective pre-season is knowing that you have to take a rest after the season is finished. Elite athletes always have a period of rest to allow their bodies to recover after their season ends. This is a good time to start thinking about your performance in the previous season, work out (mentally, not physically) where you think you could improve in your fitness or skills and set goals for the upcoming months. If you want to do some physical exercise then do an activity that is unrelated to your usual one, e.g. ; if you run, then swim for a few weeks, if you play football, maybe cycle for activity, but remember you are in a rest period, keep it gentle.
2 – Work on your weak spots
Was there a particular aspect of your fitness that was lacking? Maybe it was your endurance over a full game, maybe a lack of explosive power, or maybe it was an injury that kept on recurring over the season. Pre-season is likely to be the only time you will have to address these problems. In our clinic we often see athletes who need to eliminate a restriction in their movement or need to build up strength to avoid an old injury recurring, making your weak spots stronger will help you develop your game whatever your activity is. Consult an expert in rehabilitation or talk to your coaches and get a programme of stretching or training that is suited to your individual needs before pre-season starts.
3 – Start general, get more specific
Every sport has underlying basics that you need to perform properly, this is where your training should start. For example, footballers perform a lot of 10-30m sprints in a game, so a good start point for pre-season training would be to prepare the body for this type of activity by ensuring good flexibility in the hamstrings and calves and starting with medium intensity shuttle runs. Over time the intensity can build by using explosive sprinting drills and fast changes of direction, without ands then with the ball. This type of progression of specificity will limit your risk of injury and develop fitness relating to your sport. Also, the intensity should be staged, in early pre-season training it should be at 50-60% intensity, building up as the season draws nearer.
4 – Injuries determine your schedule, not the fixture list
If you are already carrying an injury, your schedule of getting back to sport should be determined by the injury, not when the season starts. We see a lot of people with injuries at this time of year who say ‘I have to be better in 4 weeks time, that’s when the season starts’. Unfortunately this is not how your body works; each injury has a timeframe of healing which can depend on your injury history, age, gender and willingness to comply with appropriate advice. A more constructive thought process would be ‘I want to get this injury resolved, how can I do this so I can perform effectively in the future?’
5 – Do your homework!
This means keeping up with good habits away from training sessions. This could be stretches you need to work on but also means staying hydrated, eating well and getting enough rest. Especially true if you are 35 or over when recovery times and aftercare, such as preventative treatment and longer rest times, become more important in order to avoid injury. An elite athlete’s life is dominated by excelling in every area of their preparation, if you want to be better this season than last then prepare better!
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