The Importance of Pre-Season Training

One could argue that pre-season training is the most important phase of any sport-specific conditioning plan. Not only will it help the athlete to prepare physically and psychologically, it can be used to address some of the physical imbalances that are inherent with playing competitive sport.

The main objectives of the pre-season are to enhance performance and reduce injury risk for the season ahead.

This is done by developing & optimising physical qualities such as:

  • Strength
  • Power
  • Endurance 
  • Speed & Agility
  • Mobility/Flexibility
  • Stability & Dynamic Balance

These are only achieved through progressive resistance & conditioning training (including extensive and high speed running). Strength & Power/Speed training is beneficial only as long as it forces the body to adapt to the stress of physical effort (1). If the stress isn’t sufficient to overload the body, then no adaptation can occur (1). 

During competition season, the goal of physical training is to maintain strength and power while not applying too much stress. Therefore, little to no adaptation in physical qualities occurs. During the off-season, more training stress can be applied without risking a poor competition performance.

 

There are generally 4 types of players/athletes during the off season:

  1. Players that do very little and during preseason training all of a sudden realise how out of shape they let themselves become and find themselves struggling to catch back up to where they need to be. 
  2. Players that go through the motions and work out once in a while in attempt to maintain their strength.
  3. Players that over do one part of their training but forget about other parts.
  4. Players that train smart and give themselves their best chance for the next season

 

What many athletes don’t realise is how quickly the body can regress back to pre-training levels after periods of detraining when duration and intensity is reduced.

 

Working hard before the season starts reduces an athlete’s chance of injury, stimulates their muscle growth, and improves overall fitness. In addition, starting strong, mobile and powerful enables athletes to fine-tune sport-specific skills and work toward other goals during the season. Preseason strength and conditioning programs prepare athletes for the long and gruelling season and ultimately maximises athlete performance.

If no pre-season training were to occur, it would be like running a marathon after having spent the past six months not running at all. It will be harder than ever and even if you do finish, you’ll likely have some type of injury due to your body not being properly conditioned or ready.

At the same time, not overdoing things during your pre-season is just as important; your recovery is just as important as your training (2).

From our experience, the main areas people often forget about during the pre-season are power training (in the gym) and speed training & running mechanics (on the pitch).

This is why we have created our own Pre-Season Gym & Running Program. 

Our expert Physiotherapists, Athletic Therapists & Strength & Conditioning Coaches have put together a perfectly structured programme consisting of two 5-week blocks focusing on building a foundation of Strength & Power to boost your performance and help prevent injury.

Use this period of time to work on developing strength and size while preparing the joints and tissues for increased running in the next block.

Strength & Size take longer to develop than fitness. Don’t worry if you feel you are de-conditioning a little, you will. We will build up fitness quickly and when we do, you will be bigger, faster, and stronger than if you kept the conditioning up.

 

Remember, fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Give yourself your best chance for success.

Move Well, Feel Well, Be Well.

 

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References:

  1. Brooks, G.A., Fahey, T.D., Baldwin, K.M. (2005). Exercise physiology: Human bioenergetics and its applications. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
  2. Ristolainen L, Kettunen JA, Waller B, Heinonen A, Kujala UM. Training-related risk factors in the etiology of overuse injuries in endurance sports. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2014 Feb;54(1):78-87. PMID: 24445548.