Once an athlete is about 4-6 weeks into their season, it seems that some of them start to fall apart.
They made it through preseason and the first few games. Next thing you know it, the nagging stuff starts up. Backs are tight, knees are cranky, and the body just overall aches.
This is when the body can no longer handle the demands that are being placed upon it from the season.
The best way to build resiliency against this is through strength training.
Running, cutting, and jumping are all high impact movements. Each one requires the body to absorb up to 7 times your body weight.
Strength training increases:
- Force production
- Force absorption
If I wanted to break this down further, I could but all subcategories fit into the two above.
Force production is very important for performance. We must be able to produce force to be powerful. Powerful athletes run, jump, shoot, and change direction faster than less powerful ones.
Force absorption is the important one when it comes to reducing injury risk and improving durability.
The ability to withstand force is going to keep more athletes healthier, longer. Come playoff time, athletes that have been training are going to play out of their minds compared to those that haven’t.
This all starts in the off season. Ideally, a program will start 6-9 months before the season. This allows you to build a foundation of strength to continuously add to.
The first half of the off season is a good time to train with
- high volume
- moderate weights
- mobility work
- base conditioning
During the second half of the off season we can transition to more pure strength training.
This usually consists of:
- moderate volume
- heavy weight
- mobility maintenance
- more specific conditioning
When the preseason rolls around the goal becomes to develop more power. The only exception is if your sport does not require power development.
The changes to this phase are:
- lower volume
- light to moderate weight
- focus on speed
- even more specific conditioning, with maintenance of other layers
This phase is intended to get players ready for the competitive season. Once practices and games start, power development will be reinforced almost daily. Strength training usually gets forgotten about.
When the in season time comes we are again focusing on strength, while minimizing soreness.
- low volume
- moderate to heavy weight
- mobility work
- minimal conditioning outside of sport
This is one of the most important phases that people miss out on. This is the one that prevents athletes from breaking down at the end of the season.
And I know what the excuses are. Parents and athletes are concerned with being sore, tired, homework, doing too much, etc.
All it takes is 30 minutes, twice per week. It is not a lot and it is not designed to pound on the athletes. If an in season workout is going to make an athlete more tired and sore then that is a poorly designed program.
This is the weight room session from Quinnipiac hockey, I believe the year they went to the Frozen Four. if you do not want to watch the 7 minutes of it, I will summarize.
The team did a full workout of things that they were used to doing and would not make them sore.
This was on the day of a playoff game.
They won that playoff game 3-2 in 2OT.
I would not say that the session made them tired or sore or unable to perform.
Arbitrarily going into the gym and pounding on yourself is not a good idea. That can have really bad repercussions and is obviously not advised.
Do not disregard strength training throughout the year unless you want to underachieve when the season becomes most important.