The three main phases of training for athletes in their chosen sport are pre-season, in-season, and off-season.
Pre-season training is a phase of training that athletes complete before the commencement of their season for their chosen sport, mainly focusing on preparing for the competition by developing the fundamentals required for their sport. Professional soccer athletes commencing their pre-season training, use this time to:
- Improve their fitness tailored to the specific needs of their position.
- Prevent injury.
- Get into the ideal mindset for the competitive phase coming up.
- Improve their ball mastery skills, and other technical aspects of the game.
These key aspects make up the framework for a successful athlete to reach their full potential throughout the season, supporting the importance of pre-season training.
A key aspect that pre-season training targets for professional soccer athletes is their overall fitness. In the recent FIFA 2023 Women’s World Cup, typically, athletes covered distances around 10-12km per game, with the position on the field and the intensity of the game being key factors as to which individuals run more. In order to run 10-12km in a minimum of 90 minutes largely at different intensities (excluding if players are substituted), your overall cardiovascular fitness is required to be extremely high, along with your overall aerobic capacity. For short sprints and explosive instances which is no doubt required during a soccer match, agility, strength, and muscular power to name a few important fitness components are required.
This is why pre-season training is crucial, as it allows you to build up these fitness components and play your best soccer throughout the season. This is through training programs and specifically designed workout plans to target different fitness components. For example, plyometric training, such as jumping or sprinting, is used to train muscular power, and explosiveness, and continuous training, such as long distance running, can be used to train aerobic capacity.
Alongside the many benefits that pre-season training has, is injury prevention. Common causes of injury throughout a soccer season include:
- Player contact/collisions
- Muscle imbalances
- Incorrect techniques
- High training load (over-training)
Pre-season training can prevent injury, as it aims to build muscle around the body, giving it more support and structure, preventing injury, and decreasing the chances of injuries from collisions, and improving muscle imbalances. Techniques are also continuously worked on during pre-season, to prevent injury and to improve the ability of the individual. During pre-season, training load is monitored by coaches and professionals, as well as training being planned out during the season as to not overtrain to avoid injury.
Physiotherapists are highly trained to assist athletes throughout their pre-season training, in order to achieve the best possible results of the individual throughout the in-season phase.
- Assess the athlete’s overall health and wellbeing.
- Assess and rehabilitate injuries from the previous season.
- Help develop an appropriate individualized pre-season program for athletes.
- Check the fitness components of the athletes to identify which components need improvement and which components should be maintained.
- Advise athletes on load management in their pre-season program.
- Ensure the avoidance of acute training overload, which may lead to injury.
- Reduce muscle soreness during pre-season through massage and recovery techniques.
Click here to book an appointment with a Physiotherapist at Inner Strength Bayside.
Written by Katia Taranto, 2023 Yr 10 Work Experience Student and South Melbourne Soccer Player.