This week I was back out onto the pitch coaching a few senior teams. It’s a great feeling putting the boots back on and getting stuck into a training session.
During lockdown with one of the teams I’m working with, I gave them running, speed and agility programs to follow along with a gym/strength-based programme. These programmes were designed to bridge the gap from individual training to the demands of playing a field-based sport.
This is very hard to get right as nothing replaces or is more unpredictable than training as a group for your specific sport, especially if it is an envision type sport like Gaelic, rugby or soccer.
You could have had the best lockdown programme in the world, but once you step into the team sport environment, anything can happen. Old injuries could flare up, collisions and knocks during the sessions and the overall intensity of training in a competitive environment can all lead towards injury.
Add to this the increased amount of load you are putting on the body.
Listening to our body can help prevent us from watching too many games from the side-line due to injury. It can be as simple as that.
It’s about knowing when is the right time to train and when is the right time to back off. It’s prevention over cure.
Sometimes it’s hard to make that decision as an athlete, so it may be up to a coach or even another team-mate to pull you out of training or even ask you if you’re ok to continue.
Unfortunately there is still a stigma around people pulling out due to injury, by thinking they are either faking it or not being strong enough. But you have to stay strong and listen to your body; you are the best person to judge whether it is time to pull back or keep pushing. The reality is that we can’t be 100 per-cent sure, and that’s ok.
For this season, especially, it doesn’t matter what sport you play. I would always move towards the side of rest and stepping back from the intensity of your training.
Here are a few reasons why:
It’s a short season, and one injury could rule you out of it. Secondly, even though you may have trained hard during the lockdown, you can still very easily pick up injuries, so again, listen to your body. It is trying to tell you something.
Even if you step out of training, you still have to take action. Now is the time to really focus on your recovery that will enable you to come back as quick as you can.
Stepping out of training and just standing on the sideline or, even worse, kicking a ball about isn’t good for you or even team morale.
There is nothing worse than working hard on the pitch, and you look over to see the injured players messing about with a ball or a long line of men standing with their hands in their pocket.
Are there other ways in which you can use this time better?
Maybe you can do a modified workout that doesn’t affect your injured area. For example, if it’s a lower-body injury or strain could you perform an upper bodywork or even rehab the injured area?
Another thing to consider is getting involved with training by collecting cones, ensuring the footballs and bibs are ready for the next drill or even carrying over the water.
Don’t think of these as belittling jobs because you are a player on the team. These small things are just as important and show that you are willing to do what you can to improve your team.
So overall, listen to your body, and when you are playing a team sport, think of ways that you can still train or be involved with the squad that will help get you back onto the pitch in a strong body and positive frame of mind.