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11 Sessions of Preparation for an Athlete’

Here is a brief overview of how I like to look after athletes and sports people in preparation for an event or season. Carrying out a thorough and detailed job will result in the best possible outcome for the sports person, this includes the obvious performance but also injury prevention and career longevity.

How do we ensure we meet these outcomes? Firstly, post-event or season care: For me this simply means getting started again, after a couple of weeks of rest, to allow the body to heal and destress, it’s time to get back to it, so to speak. Week 1 of 11: movement analysis. I take the athlete through a basic range of tests to ascertain any tightness, imbalance and injury. This is vitally important to complete as this will create the basis of the athlete’s warm-up routine, as it will include the individualised ‘correctives’. The correctives will, week-to-week, help to rebalance the athlete and recondition their connective tissue ready for activity.

Session 2 is effectively session 1 of strength. We continue STRENGTH training for three more sessions. This version is known as reverse linear periodised training and my personal preference, as it suits my ethos. Session 1 always starts with some tests (performance indicators) that allows me to gauge the progress effectively. These tests need to be based on relevant moves, conducive to the performance of the sport I am training them for. Basic strength training all hinges on very basic, heavy and short repetition lifts, purely to make that current individual as strong as they can be, ready for the next three-session phase to follow. This is not just limited to the muscles but also loading the tendons and conditioning the ligaments to deal with future forces.

Session 5/6/7 POWER. These weeks are absolutely critical when it comes to translating all the new strength acquisition into ‘power’. What is power? ‘Power is the ability to shift yourself or an object as fast as humanly possible’ (force x distance divided by time take) Examples The deadlift is a strength action. The Olympic clean is a power action. The athlete with the most powerful production would be the sprinter that leaves the blocks the fastest, the footballer that jumps the highest quickest to win the aerial battle, the hockey player that receives a pass ahead of his opponent and can accelerate away and evade the opposition and the boxer who can deliver the fast jab that can stun an opponent ready to land a more devastating blow. Power, once harnessed, is going to potentially lead to the best performances on the field. Power development is practised via such methods as Olympic lifts and their derivatives, plyometric activity, jumps and throws.

Session 8/9/10 PERFORMANCE. Now it’s time to phase across the new power into something I bullet point as ‘performance’. Performance is a collective of speed, power and skill. These three sessions are focused on co-ordination drills and sport-specific movements that aim to deliver the optimal amounts of speed, power and skill at any given moment to achieve the best possible performance for the action practised. For example, the footballer that has just won the aerial battle against his opponent in a split second needs to be able to meet the football with his head and also direct it to the destination they intend. These sessions tend to take place in the sporting environment or in situations similar to components of their sporting tasks.

Session 11 RE-TESTS. We revisit the first sessions of performance indicators and tests to ascertain the factual improvements the athlete has made. This is not only great for the sportspeople to see stats on how they’ve improved, but it’s also something that can be produced to hand over to team managers to show evidence of each player’s development.

It’s important to understand that at any level of competition there is always reasons to improve and no matter what level the individual is at, the methodology remains the same. A programme completed seamlessly will always procure the best results and outcomes, trusting the coach is integral to athletic readiness.

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