Injury Rehabilitation - Functional/Conditioning Aspect
Components of Performance Enhancement
There are different methods to achieving athletic development goals and everyone responds differently against those methods. You are unique in terms of your physical characteristics, physical maturity, and training experience. As such, your training program must be individualized and progressed according to your current level of development. There are four basic components of performance which need to be addressed and developed. These components can be shaped like a pyramid with general physical preparation (GPP) forming the base. GPP, which addresses work capacity, basic strength qualities, and corrective issues, is the developmental foundation upon which strength, power, and speed can later be built. It is necessary to address any underlying issues early on while still loading you in an appropriate and relevant manner. In the absence of adequate loading, you will be underprepared and durability now becomes a serious concern.
Directly above GPP on the training pyramid is strength. Strength is composed of maximal and relative strength and provides the base for power which includes explosive strength and elastic strength/reactivity. At the peak of the pyramid is speed, which includes sport-specific speed, agility, and linear acceleration. Each component has specific goals that will help you progress to the top of the pyramid and the ultimate goal of sport-specific speed. It is important to understand training is a process. Inconsistency and extended breaks in training will not allow you to progress, reach your goals, and ultimately maximize your potential.
The off-season can typically be divided into three phases. First is the general physical preparation (GPP) phase which is used to prepare for later training blocks. During this time, training will be focused on improving work capacity with particular emphasis on lifting technique, correcting any structural/postural issues, improving mobility and developing core stability. Higher reps and lower loads will be used to promote joint strength and muscle growth. Isometric holds will be incorporated to improve any structural issues and increase the endurance of postural muscles in order to maintain appropriate positions during more stressful training that will take place later in the summer. Core stabilization will concentrate on improving low back and abdominal endurance and strength. Dynamic warm-up and mobility exercises will help improve active flexibility and mobility of the joints. The focus of strength and power lifts will be to make you technically efficient. Where appropriate complexes will be used to enhance work capacity and familiarize you with the elements of Olympic lifts which may be utilized in later training blocks. Essentially, this phase of the off-season is designed to make you "bullet-proof."
After GPP is the strength and power phase. The focus of training here is to increase force production and the rate of force development; producing the highest amount of force possible in a shorter amount of time. During this time training loads will be gradually increased to allow your body to adapt. Increasing maximum strength qualities will allow for better adaptations during more advanced power and speed phases. Once maximum strength reaches an adequate level, loads and volumes for power exercises will begin to increase with the goal of teaching you how to effectively put force into the ground thereby increasing overall rate of force development. Additionally, there will be a greater emphasis on plyometrics with a subsequent increase in the intensity of the drills as the power phase begins. Conditioning will also be appropriately reduced in order to optimize gains in strength and power.
Towards the end of the off-season training will shift towards a power and speed phase provided strength and power has reached adequate levels. The focus of training will now shift more to power and sport-specific speed. High loads and low reps will continue to be used to maintain maximal force production, however a greater emphasis will be placed on bar velocity and speed of movement. Sprints, agility drills, and plyometrics will reach their highest volumes leading us right into the pre-season.
As training camp approaches, training will once again shift to place a greater emphasis on conditioning. Lifting intensities will still remain relatively high to maintain gains made during the off-season, however volume will be significantly reduced to allow for the increase in conditioning. Also, the frequency of lifting sessions per week will be reduced to off-set the increased frequency of conditioning sessions. During the pre-season phase, we will progress from general conditioning to more specific conditioning. This means conditioning intensity will be the highest of any time of the year. In particular, we will start to incorporate conditioning circuits. These circuits are made up of several sport specific movements performed at a high intensity for a short duration, still maintaining a relatively high quality of movement not simply grinding it out. The circuit involves jumping, sliding, backpedaling, and cutting with the aim of mimicking the energy demands of a game as closely as possible. With the intensity and specificity of conditioning during the pre-season phase combined with the work you put in over the course of the off-season, there is no doubt you will be more than ready to handle the rigorous demands of practice and be in position for another successful season.