Training in the off-season

The question of how to increase your running speed and endurance is one asked by many athletes.  There are similarities between the fitness requirements of many team sports. Whether it is rugby, football, hockey, basketball, netball or any fast-moving sport, many fitness elements overlap.

For example:

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1. Games players need the following qualities:
Speed, endurance, strength, agility, balance, power and vision.

2. Players in most team sports end the season needing plenty of recuperation, rehabilitation and rest before they are ready to face pre-season training and the coming months of competition. This involves time away from their sport, injury treatment and doing other activities.

3. Team players suffer a lot of injuries because they often run in a biomechanically unbalanced way; hockey players are carrying a stick and if they are dribbling the ball they are bent low to the right, if they are chasing the ball they are bent low and forwards.

When a rugby player runs, quite often he is often carrying a ball and constantly shifting balance, changing direction and then absorbing huge impacts; sometimes this involves running with other people hanging off them a driving as powerfully as they can through a wall of bodies.

A basketball player is bent to the right or the left as he or she dribbles the ball. Whatever the reason, the body is being put under extreme stress.

increase speed and endurance for games players_2

4. Many team sports involve rapid change of pace, quick changes in direction and the need for agile footwork.

5. Depending upon the length of game, most team sports will involve the players running between 5-12 kilometres during a game. A footballer might run up to 10 kilometres in a game, a hockey midfielder will run an average of 10-11 kilometres during a game while a rugby back will run between 8-10 kilometres during a game.

A fast bowler in cricket with a sprinted 30 metre run before delivery will do this six times and Over and, if bowling 22 Overs in a day – that is 3,950m just bowling alone and not counting any fielding.

What follows is a pyramid training session that aims to develop endurance and speed for team sport players.

While it is part of a pre-season training programme, it can also be used by anyone looking for a fresh training idea, that will build speed and endurance.

5 minute warm-up
2 min moderate intensity, 2 min low intensity
30 sec high intensity, 30 sec low intensity (repeat this three times)
10 sec flat out, 90 sec low intensity (repeat six times)
30 sec high intensity, 30 sec low intensity (repeat three times)
2 min moderate intensity, 2 min low intensity
10 sec flat out, 90 sec low intensity (repeat six times)
5 min cool-down

As a guide to intensity levels, the warm up should gradually increase in intensity until your heart rate is raised and you are lightly sweating. The cool down should gradually decrease in intensity until your heart rate and breathing has returned to normal.

Low intensity means you can carry on with a conversation as you are running; moderate intensity means that you are running at a pace that means you can just about answer with short sentences and high intensity or flat out means you cannot speak as you are running.  For those intimidated by running, check out this excellent introduction to running plan.

This training programme means players can keep performing for 70 minutes and can easily cover 10-11 kilometres during a match. But anyone can benefit from fitness levels like that.

(picture: zastavki)

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