Amateur or professional, late July and early August is the time that thoughts turn to a return to the green spaces one inhabits during the autumn, winter and spring.

A lot of field sports athletes will undertake pre-season training in readiness for that much-anticipated return.  However, particularly at the amateur level, such pre-season training is often less than specific.

Training specifically is extremely important to allow the athlete to perform their sport well.  Each field sport will have its own characteristics and pre-season training should reflect that.

For example, Rugby Union is stop/start and is characterised by short bursts of forward and lateral movement.  Some of this movement is unimpeded and some will be slowed by opponents.  Rugby Union players will also expect to spend considerable time getting back up off the floor.

Example drills are:

Shuttling side to side in a forward zig-zag progression with the ball but at each turn, lying flat and then getting back up over 25 metres x 10 metres wide.  Retreat to the start and go again.  The drill can be modified to involve passing the ball by having two players spaced appropriately performing the drill mirroring each other, one with the ball and one without.  After each turn on getting up, the ball is passed from one to the other.

Attack verses defence 7 v 7.  Attack starts spread out in a line with the ball at one end, one player behind the ball player.  2-3 defence players oppose the ball player.  The ball player runs into the defenders who slow his progress.  The attacker plays the ball backwards to his team mate behind him who throws the ball along the line to the next attacker who repeats.  The two attackers who have just completed the drill with the ball shuttle behind the attacking line to join the line at the other end.  Repeat across the width of the pitch and back again before swapping attack and defence.

If the athlete is training solo then passing the ball is not an option but the above drills can be modified.  The first drill can be performed solo without the passing element.  To perform a drill with progression impeded can be achieved using a parachute training harness.  These attach a small parachute to the performer than billows out behind them when they run.  Thus, the athlete could run 10 metres against the resistance of the parachute, reach to pick up the pre-placed ball off the floor then run 10 metres against the resistance of the parachute before placing the ball on the floor again.  And repeat.

Repetition in sets of 6 is recommended with a small amount (seconds) of recovery between each repetition but not enough recovery to stop breathing deeply or for one’s heart rate to slow significantly.  By the sixth repetition the athlete should be breathing deeply and their heart rate raised significantly.  Recovery between sets should allow the athlete’s breathing to return to near normal before going again (30 seconds).

Pre-season training should be sports specific.  The days of running around the pitch multiple times for ‘fitness’ should be consigned to history.  Be specific to become Super Fit.  For more details on training specifically contact me