Professional athletes and weekend warriors alike will generally indulge in some well-deserved downtime during the off-season of their chosen sport to rest and recharge. In this time, if you aren't training or competing, you can expect your muscle strength, endurance and conditioning to decline. Heading into the next season of play, it is important to have a pre-season training plan to prepare your body for demanding games and to prevent injuries.
What is pre-season training?
Pre-season training is the training you complete in the months leading up to your sports’ season. Pre-season training strengthens your fitness foundations and helps renew and enhance your technical abilities in your chosen sport. The amount of training necessary to get up to playing level is often determined by how much time was taken off after the season ended.
Why is it important?
Whether you are an athlete or just a lover of the sport, pre-season is crucial to get you ready to play. It enhances your performance over the season and is going to help significantly reduce your risk of injury. When your sport is soccer, cricket, football or netball, getting your body prepared to play the upcoming season helps on multiple fronts. Pre-season preparation helps to reduce that shock to the system you’re likely encounter during that first game - the first sprint to the ball, the rapid changing of direction or repetitive motions you're expected to perform.
Key points to remember during pre-season training
Think about the last year/season. How did you feel? How well did you prepare? How long will it take to get to that stage or better? Plot it out up til the start of your season
As you get older, your body requires a more gradual approach so that it can adapt. Start slow or a bit lighter and build.
Expect it to be difficult
After your first run, swim or training session you are likely to have that unpleasant feeling afterwards we refer to as DOMS - Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. This is normal, embrace it!
Along with considering how you structure your pre-season, you will need to manage the workload accordingly and listen to your body - for example, DOMS may tell you to have an extra day between sessions, so listen to DOMS.
As you come into competition or performances begin, it’s okay to take a little out of your sessions. You want to feel at your best for day one of your season!
Pre-season serves a purpose but also we want it to be enjoyable! Do it with teammates, friends or set yourself little competitive targets for yourself
If you’re just starting out or would like some guidance on how to make your pre-season training effective, seek out advice from a health professional or qualified coach/trainer.