To be ready for the physical demands of the football and rugby season, it is important to be able to not only perform at the required physical capacity but maintain this intensity throughout the season. The pre-season period is a crucial time for all sporting teams to develop the necessary physical attributes required to perform at a high intensity and minimise the risk of injury to players.
To achieve these goals, strength and conditioning staff expose players to precise training loads to develop strength, speed and endurance to develop the attributes and skills required for that sport.
It is important to note that most injuries occur during the last quarter of a game due to fatigue. This why it is of critical importance during the pre-season to ensure players have adequate fitness and stamina to play. Evidence has shown that players who have trained and competed during the pre-season experience a lower incidence of soft tissue injury and their severity of injury decreases through the course of the year.
CONSIDERATIONS FOR THE PRE-SEASON
SLEEP – An important factor not to be overlooked during both pre-season and once the season starts. Players who lack sleep are more susceptible to fatigue, decreased work capacity and injury. As a general rule, players should aim for equal to or greater than eight hours of sleep for optimum performance and regeneration.
NUTRITION – With the high training loads experienced with pre-season, it is important for athletes to stay on top of their dietary needs to ensure their body is supplied with all the necessary nutrients to maintain and build on athletic performance but also recover efficiently.
TRAINING LOAD – Training load should be monitored, so that increases or even decreases in load can be specifically engineered to not only enhance performance but reduce the risk of injury.
As a general rule, it is important that preseason includes:
- Moderate chronic training workloads with minimal week-to-week changes in training
- Ensuring a minimum workload is completed for each session
- Avoidance of inconsistent loading patterns
- Monitoring of athletes following spikes in training loads
INJURY PREVENTION – Many sports have tailor-made warm up and injury prevention programs such as the Netball Australia KNEE program and the FIFA 11 football program, which can be implemented before training and games to reduce the occurrence of ACL injuries. These programs involving ten evidence-based exercises focus on stabilisation, muscle training, proprioception, plyometric and stabilisation.
Similarly, NSW Rugby Union have designed the Prepare to perform programme to modify the way teams warm up prior to training sessions and focus on overall stability, fitness, power and strength and will have maximal benefits when followed twice a week.
IF YOU ARE IN NEED OF ADVICE OR HAVE SUFFERED AN INJURY DURING THIS PRE-SEASON, ONE OF OUR PHYSIOTHERAPISTS OR EXERCISE PHYSIOLOGISTS CAN HELP YOU TO GET ON TOP OF YOUR TRAINING, PERFORMANCE AND NIGGLES.
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Gabbett, T (2016). The training—injury prevention paradox: should athletes be training smarter and harder? British Journal Sports Medicine. Volume 50, Issue 5.
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