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Finding Your Fitness Niche: Training A Team Sport Athlete

Finding Your Fitness Niche: Training A Team Sport Athlete

When you’re training a client who is also heavily involved with team sports, there are some elements that you need to consider. However, ultimately, no matter what team sport your client plays, the underlying physiological demands will most likely be the same – high aerobic power, high lactate tolerance and increased anaerobic capacity.

The advantage of a team sport is that there are other players helping you out on the field. But this still means that a team sport player’s body needs to be well equipped to deal with the demands such as short, sharp and fast sprints, constant stopping and starting, and short recovery times.

Demands You Need To Understand

As the trainer, it’s imperative that you understand exactly what demands are placed on your client’s body when it comes to their particular team sport. That way, you can actually help your client improve their fitness in the ways they need.

While all players will need to maintain the ability to stop and start, and conduct interval sprints, the amount of work they will do will largely depend on their position in the team and what sport they play. Further, individual players in a team will have different training requirements according to their fitness level and individual strengths and weaknesses.

When you first meet with your client, make sure to ask them a few important questions:

1.     What sport do they play and what position?

2.     What does this position involve and how can you help them improve their ability to perform?

3.     What are their strengths?

4.     What are their weaknesses and what would they like to work on?

Also, remember that depending on whether they’re in off-season mode or they’re in the middle of their playing season, their training requirements will change and you need to be able to adapt with your client’s needs.

During their sports season, sessions will most likely revolve around strength and conditioning. In the off-season, clients will generally be looking to maintain their fitness level and improve for the start of the next season, while still allowing time to recover, both physically and mentally. During this time, there is usually a reduction in training volume, intensity and frequency.

Interval Training

The most important element of team sports tends to be the player’s aerobic power, and most experts agree with the idea that high-intensity training, specific to the sport at hand, will deliver the greatest benefit.

Make sure your client warms up properly prior to the start of training. Interval training is a high-intensity work out so the muscles need to be ready for the onslaught.

Before kicking off the interval training, complete some light aerobic training to warm up the body. Consider some jogging, perhaps some skipping or a ride on the bike. This warms up the body and the muscles so your client is fully prepared for what lies ahead.

Start with a few intervals each session. Don’t go too hard too fast. While your client may be in exceptional shape and remarkably fit, it will only hinder their progress if you move too fast.

And remember to ensure adequate recovery time between interval training sessions. If you are seeing your client twice or three times a week, consider making one session interval and one session strength. This way, you are working different muscles in their bodies, improving different elements of their fitness and giving them time to recover from harder workouts.

Skill-specific Training

Most team sport players are going to want to work on their specific skill set, whether in season or not. It’s all about improving their abilities so they can be better when they take the court or field next.

If their sport involves passing a ball, work with your client with a medicine ball. Get their strength up and work with both arms. If their sport involves the need to balance, work on their balancing skills, and strengthen their core with stomach and lower back exercises. If they need to improve their ability to weave through people and/or dodge around obstacles, set up an obstacle course for them to run through.

While team sports are about more than individual athletes, a team is only as good as its weakest player. Fitness plays a huge role in a player’s ability to perform. This includes aerobic ability, strength, speed, power and flexibility. While athletes will get their team training and most of their skill training with the team coach, as their trainer, you still have a role to play.

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