Reduce Injuries This Preseason

Is it really August already?
I can’t believe the Football League has already started with the Premiership to follow.
For most amateur football and rugby clubs, it’s pre-season time.
Everyone’s excited about the season ahead. It’s a clean slate. You just want to get pre-season out of the way and start playing.
Everybody dreads pre-season. It’s those never ending running sessions. The endless press ups, burpees, piggy backs and anything else the coach can think of in order to break the players. Some coaches even take pride in the fact they made players throw up.
The only guarantee are the injuries. Why do we do it?
Coaches tend to blame the players for not looking after themselves.
Whereas players blame the coach for the torturous training sessions.
Both have a point.
I have a problem with the way pre-season is generally done.
Traditionally, the idea is to build a broad platform of general fitness to then get more specific, using matches in the latter stages to get match sharpness. Most coaches and players would agree that the only way to get ‘match fit’ is to play matches.
Is that the only way? Or just the way it’s always been?

When you only have 6 weeks to prepare for explosive endurance sports such as football and rugby, you don’t really have enough time to build a conditioning base from scratch, then try to convert that into speed and power.
Those 6mile runs to get in the “Aerobic Base” – not necessary.
The press ups, sit ups, squats and lunges in their hundreds. – too much.
The Crufts style agility courses with cones, ladders, hurdles, poles done as fast as you can – doesn’t prepare for the game.
Let me put this to you. If you got your 6mile run time right down to 36mins. That’s a good aerobic base right? Maybe for a 10k runner, but 6 minute miling is only 22.5sec per 100m. Not only is the intensity too low for the energy systems, but the muscular force required and speed of contraction is not preparing the body for the sport of football. So you might be aerobically very fit, but the first time you make a couple of short sprints or an overlap, you’re goosed. What about accelerating, decelerating and changing direction?  So much more can be done in that 40 or so minutes.
For “I’m not match fit,” read “I’m poorly prepared.”
I’m of the opinion that you can’t endure what you haven’t got.
Train speed before speed endurance. Develop strength before strength endurance. Power, before power endurance.
It makes sense when you think about it.
When pre-season training involves massively over working the players before they have developed fatigue resistance is going to lead to technical breakdown and a reduced ability to concentrate. The key ingredients for accidents and injury.
In a game, during the last 10mins of each half, is it the lungs bursting that’s making it hard? Or is it that your legs feel heavy and can no longer respond at the speed you want them to?
If it’s the latter, the fatigue is down to the number of times your legs have had to accelerate and decelerate. The discrete direction changes. Getting low.
Do you know how often you do these in a game? How quickly you need to be able to recover? No? Then that may explain why you can only get match fit by playing the game.
This time, why not try doing your pre-season everything the other way round?
Start with fast work over about 40/50m. Fast, but not flat out and in a straight line. We don’t want sore hamstrings. Just slow walk back for recovery (about 60sec). Don’t get competitive with the sprints until week 3 or 4 unless you want them to tense up, get slower and get injured.
In these early sessions, also work on the mechanics of direction change at a slow speed and groove the technique of the basic strength work you plan to do.
Week 2 Just increase the volume. Stop when you first notice technique deteriorates. You’re not training for fitness or fatigue resistance yet.
Week 3 Start to load up deceleration work when the muscles should be able to tolerate it. You can start to get competitive with the sprinting now. Still no fatigue yet.
Week 4 Introduce reactive agility and shorten recoveries. Technique should be able to handle a bit of tiredness.
Week 5 Now is the time to start pushing the fatigue resistance. Also introduce randomisation and chaos now to your agility work when the movement patterns are ingrained and robust enough. Get more specific with timed possession games
Week 6 Maximal intensity so there’ll be no shocks on game day. Short recoveries (1:2or3 work to rest). Put them in small clusters or sets like in a match situation with a couple of minutes recovery.
If you’re training 2-3 times per week, that will be enough to see you getting the season off to a flying start but also ensure injuries are kept to a minimum.
Try this system and tell me how you get on.. It’s worked for me but I’d love to hear your feedback.

Speak Your Mind