Keep'er Fit

Gary Wallace

Rebuild during pre-season

For some sports like football and hockey your seasons will be over for another year.

It’s time to reflect on all the highs and lows, and for the more mature players, it’s time to consider if it was their last year like they said or would next season definitely be their last.

For those that are definitely lacing up their boots for next year it is time to consider pre-season conditioning.

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This may be the last thing you want to think about but if you take the time to plan out what you intend to do over the next few months it will stand to you at the beginning, middle and more importantly the business end of the season.

Here are a few things for you to consider.

Rest

The season is over; you don’t have to head outside the door on a Tuesday night for training. You’re thinking TV, sofa, a cuppa and chocolate biscuits.

Well, go for it, you deserve it, but don’t be too easy on yourself. Take the first week or two to switch off from your sport and even connect with family and friends who have given you the time and space for you to commit to your sport.

This will not only give your body the much needed rest but also your mind.

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The pressure and stress we put ourselves under for the love of the game, even at an amateur level, can sometimes be crazy, so we need to switch off.

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Try something new – but make it fun

Now is the time to try something that you have always wanted to do. Many athletes make the choice of going straight into another competitive sport, which is fine, if the body can handle it. Rather than jumping straight into another season why not try something recreational and different from your main sport. Playing basketball with your mates, going mountain biking or try out the tri club. Whatever it is, go and enjoy it.

Reflect and set goals

I would advise that you do this after your rest period when the body and mind have settled and you aren’t making any decisions when your emotions are still high or low from the season’s end.

Write down what went well and what didn’t go well for you. This can be physical, mental, commitment levels, work balance etc. Once you have considered everything, start writing out your goals for next season and the first thing you can look at, is the physical side.

Time to rebuild and get strong

You may only be two weeks into the off-season but this could be a key time to hit the gym. Firstly, address all those weaknesses and pervious injuries, seek advice from a physio or other medical professional on what you should work on. Invest in a personal trainer or strength and conditioning coach to help you implement the advice given to you from the physio.

In addition to this, now is the time to get strong. The best way to describe how important strength is in athletic performance is comparing it to a rising tide that lifts all ships. If strength is the tide then the ships are power, speed, mobility. All these fitness components will be improved if you concentrate on getting strong. The reason we have a huge focus on strength during pre-season is because it is very taxing on the body, no doubt you will meet your old friend ‘DOMS’ (delayed onset muscle soreness), that’s the feeling you get when you can’t get up from the toilet after a heavy leg day.

If we focus too heavily on strength during the season, then we could increase stress and overload in the body resulting in an inability to perform at your highest level and increase the risk of injury.

Before you know it, the summer holidays will be over and you will be having your first team meeting setting out ambitions for the year, and the more mature players deciding that they are coming back for one more year.

The good thing is that even if you followed a simple plan and put in a little bit of work you are going to be in a far better place physically and mentally helping you and your team as you prepare to do it all over again.

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