Sunday, November 6, 2016

Footy Off - Season Checklist

My team's pre-season starts Next week (Nov 15th) and even though I won't be there until practice game time, I still tick off every box needed to prepare myself for footy season 2017.

From second the final sounds to the very second of team pre-season training, you're in the off-season training period.

I class this as the most important part of the season training wise because you have time, you have energy resources and no competition.

Training and games will eat into about 5hrs of activity time during the season plus hanging around time each week. On top of work and family that doesn't leave a lot of extra time to get quality training in.

Training and games especially take precedence over everything else during the season as you need to be cherry ripe for each and every Saturday and there's only so much energy stores to go around.

The fight for energy stores needs to be altered to reach Saturday at 100% but in the off-season you don't need that.

In fact training to and "above" 100% is what causes adaptation to training. You only get better by doing more then before or something better then before.

Now of course we all know that there are 100 things you need to train for footy but we're amateurs, we don't have the resources to do all of that so I like to keep it to the big rocks:

  1. Rehabilitation
  2. Strength / Armour
  3. Aerobic Capacity
  4. Speed
If you suffered from am injury that ended your season prematurely, or you played through one to finish off the year then it needs to be rehabilitated. Not rested but rehabilitated.

From 18 rounds of footy plus finals on often heavy grounds, specific dynamic actions can become overused and those muscles can break down in quality so that blistering speed you had in February can be a figment of your imagination come August.

Muscle tissue quality (we're talking contractability, range of motion etc) decreases over a long season so you might need to do a little regeneration work to get that back to an optimal level to train off.

This might be achieved through stretching, gentle bodyweight circuits, foam rolling, diaphragmatic breathing or whatever mode you like to use. My preference is the Be Activated Protocol.

For may years I did the age old sequence of gym from September to March then just went to footy training and some of you probably in that phase too. Resistance training is a must in my book for footy and not just for getting swole and strong. A strong body is a resilient body.

I have never had a soft tissue injury in my 50 years of football. Even coming off a 5 year break to start footy back up at 32 (I think), I have played all but 4 games and this is down to my strong body. 

If you're one of those blokes who breaks down each and every year at some point then you HAVE to do a full 6 months in the gym from September to March and them maintain some gym work during the season.

Without strengthening your body you're resting, but you're not recovering and same problems come back time and time again. The off-season is the time when you you should be hitting 5 - 6 times a week to build up strength, which is a slow process ans can't be done in 4 weeks from start to finish.

If you're slight of build like I was a youngster (55kgs at 18) then you'll need to build some armor to compete with the big boys. Building muscle and gaining weight requires excess energy to be used to do this process and trying to hold onto excess energy when footy training rolls around is crazy talk.

Old school coaches talk about "having a fitness base" which really makes no sense and they probably don't know what they actually mean by it.

What it actually means pretty much is to build aerobic capacity which is the ability of aerobic energy system which is responsible for fueling low intensity bouts of activity as well as recovering from intense bouts of activity.

Again this is a medium to long process to really nail this and requires some patience but you can't build optimal footy endurance without adequate aerobic capacity.

So to the players who roll up in January and go straight into the metabolic sprint work and to the coaches who think running with the balls or again just doing 400's is going to get you fit then think again. It can (if you avoid injury), but only to a certain and limiting extent.

Lastly, for the millionth time on this blog, speed is king. If I had 4 weeks and 2hrs a week to train a footy player I'd train speed the entire time.

Players play elite grades of footy because they're fast. Their skills might not be as good, their game sense might be a little bit off but by god that can all be overlooked when no-one can catch you. We've all played with these guys.

Like strength, because it is based on rewiring the central nervous system, this also takes time to develop and it might take 2 - 3 real good off-seasons to hit your full potential.

This makes it ultra critical that this is started as soon as possible but remember it needs to be performed in a totally non-fatigued state.

During pre-season you;ll always have residual fatigue from team training, during the season we're all about Saturdays but the off-season is wide open. You don't need to run to exhaustion at this time so you can perform each session totally fresh. S[peed should also be trained each and every week of the year regardless of when it is as it deteriorates quicker then anything else when it is not trained.

How many boxes have you clicked so far?

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