Jude Hewavasam, Exercise Physiologist.
It’s been a long footy and netball season, & your body needs time to rest & recover from fatigue and/or injury during the season before you get yourself back into exercise.
Your off season is the perfect time to firstly rest up your body but then work on specific performance areas you are lacking to ensure improved performance in 2014. Research has shown athletes who commit their body to solid off-season training not only reduce their risk of injury, but show improvement in performance & maintain better general health.
Here are some recommended off-season tips for athletes for improvement & to help keep you in the starting line-up during the 2014 season:
Warm Up & Cool Down: This is critical component of exercise programs. During the off season ensure your warm ups & cool downs are specific to the movements you will execute in your exercise program. This will enhance your movement, reduce risk of injury & assist in post exercise recovery.
Running: We all know the importance of running in football and netball. Not only is an appropriate level of running fitness required but importantly running with the correct technique will ensure you run as efficiently as possible, improving your speed, stamina & endurance.
Off season is the time to focus on improved running technique, which in turn can impact substantially on your overall performance. So focus first on technique and once running efficiently then commence running fitness work- endurance running & shorter intense running.
What is your correct running technique? Our Exercise Physiology team can assist athletes by conducting running assessments, evaluate & provide advice then tailor specific programs for improving your running technique.
Weight Training: Weight training should be individualised to athlete’s goals and development. Weight training should incorporate full body exercises & football specific exercises focusing on volume and repetition.
The purpose of weight training is to get your muscles strong enough to endure the impact football has on your body & joints. Having a variety of training routines is known as periodisation. Changing volume, intensity & duration will allow your body to adapt to workload which will enhance your performance on the field.
Program dependant, typically an athlete may strength train 3-5 times per week using varied sessions of weight training. Our Exercise Physiology team can assist with a tailored program.
Skills: Practice on skills will allow you to improve on your overall game. Find an area where you want to improve on & focus on drills specific for this skill/s. Research has shown the more you practice fine motor skills, the more your muscle memory will improve.
Give priority to skills training & practice when you are fresh, not fatigued.
Prevention of Injury: Ankle, hamstring and knee injuries are the most common injuries in football while ankle & knee injuries are prominent in netball. Body awareness exercises on unstable surfaces increases nerve activation, which will improve muscle strength & stability around joints.
Incorporate this into your off season exercise program to aid in prevention of injury.
Nutrition & Hydration: The off season is your ideal time to get into good habits for the upcoming season. Weight can be lost due to training and matches played during the season. To ensure your body is maintained at an optimal weight during the off- season, it is imperative you have a good diet as well as an ongoing exercise program.
If athletes want to add weight/ bulk this is a great time to alter their nutrition intake. Our Exercise Physiology team can assist athletes by provide dietary advice & routines along with specified exercise programs for weight increase.
Rest & Recover: It is important that you allow your body to rest and recover. If you feel your body & mind need it, allow yourself to have between 2-4 weeks off hard training. Allow the body to recover & regenerate.
Following hard training it is important to ensure you have adequate rest & recovery for muscle regeneration & improved strength. The off-season is a great time to incorporate a program that involves exercise & then rest days/periods ensuring muscle regeneration.