The 'joys' of pre-season training
Pre-season training can be a testing time...
For most players pre-season training is always a difficult period where injuries are concerned.
Often injuries sustained at the back end of the season before won’t have recovered enough to allow full participation.
The first ten days or so of pre-season training at any club are always the most physically demanding and the reality of the situation is that any player returning from injury has to make sure that the return to full training is gradual.
At any other time of year, if that means joining in 75% of what the rest of the group does and then going off and doing your own specific work instead of shooting practice or whatever then so be it.
However, it’s very difficult to ease yourself in during the pre-season period because this the stage where people are laying their own fitness foundations for the season to come.
So once again it’s a time of GPS tracking, heart-rate monitors and stop-watches. The coaching and medical staff will already have been hard at work with the preparations and planning schedules, session content and such like.
They’ll have taken into account the fact that several players will be joining in after a lengthy absence from full training and will have made some allowances for this.
Coaches up and down the country won’t be too happy if their main focus is on watching to see who is likely to drop out of the programme with injuries and whether anyone returning to the squad has made that call a little too early for complete peace of mind.
As the work-load intensifies, any injuries that haven’t properly healed will quickly be revealed.
If some players are then forced to drop out with anything other than minor niggles then it wreaks havoc with the schedules especially if the coaches have been assured beforehand that all is well.
Football clubs traditionally have a high injury rate in pre-season but often that’s simply down to inadequate preparation for the return after the break.
Players know nowadays that they can’t just go away and lie on a beach for a few weeks and then step on to the training pitch as though they had never been away.
In saying that, the close season as we used to know it no longer exists and clubs are now back in training so much earlier in the year than they used to be.
At elite level, close season tours and international competitions can quickly eat into the average six weeks of the close-season break.
It can be a difficult period physically at any level though. If you're involved in the promotion or relegation play-offs in the divisions outside of La Primera then there's hardly a close season at all!
Those who have missed time in the season gone by through injury will need to make sure that they are in decent condition as they return to training.
Their bodies are likely to be pushed to their limits and their response to treatment and rehabilitation will be formally scrutinised.
Players returning from injury need to better prepared than most since any deficiencies present are likely to be identified once the training levels start to rise and the friendly games come in.
Although results in pre-season matches are generally accepted to be secondary to individual and team performances.
Playing competitive matches at this time of year against other professional opposition is still the best way to bring players back into the squad who have missed game time with long-term injuries.
In-season, this opportunity doesn’t always arise and clubs often have to arrange closed-door matches at the training grounds purely to assess the progress of those returning from injury.
This isn’t always the easiest thing to do so the luxury of having some friendly games with a competitive edge in pre-season can be invaluable.
The depth of their participation in ‘full training’ will depend on how well they have actually recovered from their previous injuries.
If there are any issues, then common sense needs to prevail.
The last thing you want is for people who have been out for any length of time retuning to training too soon just because they want to fit in with the starting date.
So there can be quite a bit of pressure on players who are likely to return to the squad in the next couple of weeks and who have missed the end of last season through injury.
There’s even more pressure on those who have earlier gone public saying they’ll be fully fit and ready to go!
This happens a lot; and for many players, earlier promises of being fit for the new season will shortly be put to the test. Let's hope those concerned haven't been too over-optimistic!
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