It seems as if we only just finished the Winter sports season and many teams of various sporting codes are back in the swing of preseason training. Preseason is a time where we see a lot of cross training or alternative methods used to try and give athletes a winning edge and increase the level of interest over the period that is otherwise monotonous and mundane as the competition seems a little far off in the distance. It is also a time where we occasionally see some weird and wonderful techniques that have been adopted form other programs that have the potential for injury.
Firstly we have to look at why we do preseason training. Essentially it is to get us prepared for the demands of our chosen sport when the season commences. In some cases it is about building our strength and fitness base over a number of seasons so that we can improve to reach a high level in perhaps two to three years time. This is certainly the case for the younger player moving into senior ranks in the first few years. Having expectations of mixing it with the more seasoned campaigners may be unrealistic and the pursuit to do so if the body has not been prepared is likely to end in injury.
Any sudden change in activity type has the potential for injury. Road running, hill running, weight training and plyometric training are a few of the plethora of training techniques that can be utilised and all load the body in different ways. Any introduction to any of these areas needs to be taken slowly and with care. It is also the case for players who are returning from a long layoff from the game, often after injury. In these cases the body will not be used to loading and is more vulnerable to injury if the return to activity is too sudden.
Often the body will give an athlete warning that they have overloaded. It is vital to acknowledge these warnings and address any issues to avoid serious and debilitating injury. In many cases all it takes is a change to their program, some stretching of a restricted joint or specific exercise to address a strength deficit.
The preseason needs to be approached with the view of the big picture from both the team and individual perspective so that it is addressing specific goals in a structured manner