Are you ready to play?
We all can’t wait for sport to start again, however, there is going to be increased risk for all athletes around the world. There are many risk factors when it comes to injuries and one that stands out is being deconditioned. Simply put if you are not prepared for the demands (sprinting, cutting, jumping, tackling) of your sport than you are going to be at a high risk of injury. If an amateur player skipped the state league ranks (semi-professional) and went straight into elite level sport they would really struggle. They may avoid injury because they simply can’t keep up with the other athletes or in an attempt to keep pace they over-extend their athletic ability and get injured. This is an extreme case but something similar could happen to you and your team mates. If you are not prepared to play your sport through lack of training than you are rolling the dice, either under-performing or getting seriously injured. Fortunately there’s strategies you can put in place to reduce your risk of injury.
Start training now
If you aren’t currently training in one way or another than you need to start straight away. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it’s likely it won’t be perfect, so do what you can. Your training should be a close reflection of your sport, so try to incorporate as many sport specific activities as possible. Lockdown is basically another pre-season so it’s a great opportunity to refine skills, improve your fitness and bullet proof your body. You don’t need a lot of equipment to complete effective training sessions. If your sport requires you to run, jump, throw, sprint and kick, a lot of this can be completed at your local park (which are still open) or even your back yard (if in quaratine).
Skills – Athletes need to prioritise skills as much as possible, if you have a Lockdown partner go to the park and work through some sport specific skills such as kicking, throwing, marking and general play making. If you don’t have a partner get creative and work on skills you can do as an individual, this may include skills from other sports such as juggling, throwing and catching.
Conditioning – Next on the priority list is sports specific conditioning, which may be hard but it needs to mimic the sporting demands as much as possible. This will depend on what you have access to but at very least try to match the demands of the sport. If your sports requires you to run in intermitted bouts then interval running should be your go to, although, if you can’t run due to restrictions some good alterantives are – running on the spot, skipping, boxing and circuit training. If you can’t keep the modality (type of exercise) the same as your sport, you may have to manipulate the other variable such as intensity, time and volume to suit your needs.
Strength – The final key component should be some for of strength training to bullet proof your body from injuries. Equipment is not necessarily required, instead focus on body weight movements with perfect for and control, such exercises include push ups, split squats, single leg deadlifts, single leg squats, chin ups, rows, planks, side splanks, glute bridges and nordic curls. Jump, landing and plyometrics are always critcal in any program and they require no equipment, include these in your strength program.
Slowly progress training loads
It’s an unknown how long the whole pandemic and restrictions are going to last so there is no point jumping out of the gates and working yourself into the ground. Your focus right now should be to SLOWLY build the qualities mentioned above to the point where if we are told sport will be resuming in 2 weeks time you will be 90% prepared and ready to play. The biggest risk you could take is to do nothing for 12 weeks then expect to play straight away. Sure you might get through the first week (if your lucky), but fatigue will start to accumulate as every training session and game goes by and with that your chances of injury will increase.
The uncertainty is the worst part as it is hard to know what to prepare for, although, it is best to be prepared for anything than nothing. If you haven’t been doing anything than now is the best time to start, keep it simple work with what you’ve got, progress slowly and build to where you need to be. This will atleast have ready to start playing sport again and hopefully keep you playing for a long time.