The P Word: Four Top Tips For Mastering Pre-Season

  • February 22nd, 2018
  • Charlie Bull

Everyone is in the same boat. Starting again, starting fresh. The season is long, but preparation is underway weeks before that first competitive game. You and your team need to find those extra yards in the legs, goals in the net, tries over the line, shots in the hoop and ultimately points on the board.

Doing well in a season is all about consistency. Often you see teams faltering in the first games of the season - lack of fitness, preparation, togetherness and tactical understanding. A great start to the season can provide you with a solid platform, so if you can find that cutting edge earlier than everyone else, it sets the benchmark. That way, a couple of bad results here and there won't make a whole lot of difference.

1. Think

What worked well in the past? Although it's a new season, for most of you it will not be your first. You've had experience, so use it! You're bound to remember the sessions you've put on that have got the best out of players and likewise those that haven't worked. Sitting down and taking the time to think about your strengths and weaknesses as a coach and how you can take everything you've learned into the new season is really beneficial.

2. Plan

Lay out each week. As important as it is in pre-season to push your players to the limit and smash through the fitness sessions, your role as their coach includes ensuring they receive the optimal rest and recovery. This ensures that when your team return from a couple of days off, they are re-energised and ready to go again. The last thing you want is a pulled muscle halting a player's start to the season. Goal setting is another aspect of pre-season that helps to push the players through and reach new levels. Goals should be hard enough to maintain challenge from the players, but realistic and achievable.

3. Bond

Playing well and winning matches isn't merely about fitness levels, tactics and skill. It's not a case of individual players' abilities being totalled together against the other team, not at all. Otherwise the phrases 'Giant Killing' or 'Upset' would be nowhere to be seen in sport. Team cohesion and morale are absolutely vital in any level of sport. Social events are a great way to get the players bonding, along with fun games at the end of training sessions. Put in the hard yards and then reward the players for their effort levels. As the coach, it's important to strike a good balance of how involved you are with the players. You want to enjoy a sense of humour with them and understand their personalities, but don't go too far in. It is important to maintain your distance and ensure respect as the head of the team.

4. Play

Fitness versus match fitness - what's the difference? Long distance runs, shuttles and bleep tests can only go so far. They are musts for pre-season, but they are not wholly match replicable. You need to include sufficient matches in your pre-season schedule to bring the team up to game pace. Without these fixtures, the team won't have practiced their skills and ability at a high enough intensity. After the first couple of weeks, focusing on physical fitness, mixed in with some ball work, it is about time to start playing games. If possible I would suggest two matches a week to boost match fitness as quickly as possible. Obviously for some of you that won't be possible, but definitely one match a week is required if you want to be competing come the season opener!

Good luck and go well! We're here to support you. Here at Sportplan we offer great discounts on our multi-user club and school packages. Please see the pages below for more information!

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