Why is pre-season so important?
Players, coaches and sports scientists all talk about the pains of pre season – and why it matters…
For most players the word “Pre-season” is not something we like at all.
But, we need it because we need to prepare well for a long season.
Most players enthusiasm says one thing and shaking their head says another: The truth. Athletes hate pre-season.
They understand its purpose, though. This is their chance to lay down solid fitness foundations for a 20-week slog.
But, how important is the summer grind in catapulting a team towards success?
Ask any player, at any level, what springs to mind when they think of pre-season and they’ll say the same thing: running. And lots of it.
This is true, but the days of gruelling cross-country treks are over. They’ve been ditched along with pre-match fry-ups and half-time cigarettes.
In the modern era, players AT ALL LEVELS are hooked up with GPS systems and heart-rate monitors that pump out live data for evaluation. There’s nowhere to hide.
This has helped training evolve. Sessions are now carefully designed to replicate the demands of the sport.
Players focus on high-intensity interval training – in layman’s terms – workouts that challenge them to perform short, sharp explosive actions like sprinting, jumping and shooting, over and over again.
For the players this kind of work enables them to do their job with the same level of efficiency at the end of a game, as they do at the start.
Once the season is underway it is more difficult for coaches to push the players physically – there are too many games to play and recover from as well as other commitments – so it has to be done during summer and it has to be meticulously planned so players are in prime condition come round 1.
Pre-season is a great opportunity to overload the players with double sessions / week to give them a superior base of fitness.
We generally only have six weeks to get into shape – each individual is different so they need specific training plans and diets that progress at the right pace.
Running that extra yard during a game could be the difference between winning and losing.
Those players who are up for the challenge don’t want to miss a minute. They need to be out there showing the coach their name should be first on the team sheet.
Getting injured is not an option, but when players push their bodies to the limit, this is an unfortunate consequence.
Standing on the touchline fighting fires with ice and strapping is the team’s battlefield medic – the physio!!
If you keep picking up injuries during pre-season and are missing sessions your not going to be fit when the season starts.
A poor pre-season could see a team make a slow start because they won’t be up to speed fitness wise. Also, it could potentially lead to more injuries because the players haven’t conditioned their bodies properly.
This concern sets the agenda for the physios and sports scientists. They must help the players build robust bodies to reduce their risk of injury.
Preseason is a great opportunity to work closely with the players to spend time ironing out any niggles, work on their weaknesses and educate them about their bodies.
There’s no doubt that forging match-winning fitness is the main objective of pre-season – without it key components such as tactics, team spirit and technical skill are all rendered redundant.