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Preparing Athletes For The Demands Of Their Sport

Preparing Athletes For The Demands Of Their Sport

Jun 17, 2024

Perform HQ

Our goal is always to provide the absolute best development for an athlete to meet the demands of their sports.

The process and principles we follow pathe the way to create a program that gives them this high level of development.

Each sport is placed at a certain pace and intensity with their own particular physical and psychological demands (remembering this is relative to age group, level, etc). Our goal is to dose in exposures at or above these stressors in there on court and on field training sessions.

This is the best 'injury risk management' tool.
 A well physically prepared body.


As a Strength & Conditioning Coach we have two pretty clear roles to play;

1. Keep the athlete on the field - best manage the risk of injuries.

2. Maximise performance - bring an athlete to their best physical ability to compete and succeed within the demands of their sport.

Before we have parts of your program focused on maximising performance and placing on these higher stressors. There might need to be time dedicated to managing the keeping them on the field part. 

The better we can minimise the limiting factors in high performance (i.e injuries, niggles, etc.) the higher the ceiling to push their performance. We do this by removing potential road blocks ahead of time.


Let's use the example of the physical stress & demand of High Speed Running using the above graph.

LOCALTissues like calves and hamstrings.

MOVEMENT - Elements of pelvic stability/control, switching, ground contact, ankle stiffness. As well as a graded exposure to sprinting.

SPORT - Scenarios like a chase down, line break or general getting around the field at higher velocities over higher volumes.


So, how would we piece this together?
Let's use someone who constantly gets strains and niggles:

Before we try to build their ability to hit and develop high speed. We might need that lower level of prep. By assessing through questionnaires we can get an idea of their previous programs and exposure to training. If we can see that in condjuction with a lack of tolerance to high speed, they haven't done alot of soft tissue or movement preparation. We can shift our programming focus to those lower levels.

By reduce the volumes of what can cause potential injury or niggles (sprinting) and placing a good volume of training into this prep work we're heading in the right direction to have our athletes injury risk managed and performance increase.

Keep in mind during this time frequency is your friend.

We can micro-dose a high frequency through both the gym and their pre-team training warm ups to build tissue capacity at a faster rate. Both from a local tissue (isometrics, extensive plyometrics) and a movement standpoint (run mechanics, sprint shapes).

Throughout this process we never lose sight of the main goal, performing within their sport. So, as the weeks go on and the tissue tolerance work is doing it's job we can begin to re-introduce max speed exposures at lower intensities.

Let's fast forward 2-6 weeks

- You've reduced or lowered the stressor that was causing the road block (sprinting)
- You've introduced a high frequency tissue capacity & movement quality loading
- You've then gradually increase max speed exposure back up closer to 90%, with improved mechanics

Now, we can see the real test.

Adding in that final layer of exposure with scenario based drills
You can find a whole library of drills and ideas here.

Using low volumes we can get them in competitions or small sided agility scenarios to test their capabilities at the higher end of the intensity demands.


Isn't this risky though?

The confidence in the ability to perform drills like this comes from a quality, progressive preparation phase. If you're subjectively hesitant or feel it's risky, we simply haven't done the prior preparation work needed. Back into the 'lab' you go.

By building athletes back up into chaotic drills within a training environment like this we;

1: Build their confidence greatly 
2. Adequate stress at relevant intensities of what they'll be exposed to within a game
3. Continue to drive the development needle forward. Extra benefit, they can now recover from it

It's this entire thought process as coaches that helps us regress and progress our program design in order to best prepare our athletes for the demands of their sport.

Through data, assessments, mechanics observations or interview processes we can piece together which individuals may need to improve certain aspects of their physical development in order to keep them on that field/court.