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Guest Blog: The PHYSICAL factors to consider during the first days back at training?

After a long layoff from training and/or competition, the body and mind have had time to recover from the stress and pressures that work in conjunction with competing and training at high intensity.

Slight overuse or impact injuries have disappeared and the body has adjusted to a new routine of relaxation, in young sportsmen and women, the rest may have allowed their bodies to grow at an escalated rate.

The mind, which during competition season has been subject to tonnes of detailed information to aid the learning journey. Whilst being filled with internal and external feedback and thoughts the mind also needs to be rested from the pressures of competing/winning and improving. 

How to prepare?

Be Organised

  • Ensure your team is aware of the date/time/location of the first training session. 
  • Create a check list of all the equipment you will need to bring with you.
  • Have your first training session memorised and already mapped out in your mind.
  • If you have any new players, ensure you start off the session by introducing them to the rest of the team.

How to prepare and cope physically with the first few days training?

The body has adjusted to ‘Out of competition Mode’. It is paramount that your training sessions are intense but not overly as you want to avoid putting their bodies under overdue stress. Warming up key muscle groups (dynamically) thoroughly will aid preparation for more strenuous activity and help prevent muscle strains in the short and long term. Before the first session, some players may need a sports massage to help loosen up the muscles and help with blood flow to key areas. 

After exercise, preparation again is paramount. Recovery starts with nutrition (see below). However, a key area missed by many, after intense exercise is the cool down and recovery of the key muscle groups. The cool down helps remove waste products from the body and helps reduce heart rate at a more considered rate which can help prevent dizziness and unnecessary blood shunting. Cool downs consisting of light sport related movements and loose dynamic stretching are proven to be most effective. 

The next essential which is key to recovery is cold therapy. Ice baths are common in elite performers. Why does cold therapy work? By constricting the blood vessels, swelling is reduced and repairs are made in the small tears of the muscles caused by intense exercise. The outcome is that waste products are removed from the body at its earliest opportunity therefore allowing the muscles more time to prepare for the next day’s work. The next step is to rest, hopefully your team will be exhausted after being put through their paces so you may not have to convey this message too much but ensure your team understands the importance of rest and inform them to accumulate regular (if not more) sleep than usual. Studies show this can improve performance both physically and technically.

Nutrition – eat well, perform better.

A well balanced and structured diet can improve performance dramatically and in a sporting world, where the margin for error is getting smaller. Advising your team on their diet to ensure they have the best fuel to attack a competition is vital if you want them to succeed and fulfil their potential. 

Before activity 

  • A mixture of complex and simple carbohydrates. Why? Slow release of energy/easy to digest. 
  • 2 hours before exercise. Why? Gives the stomach time to digest the food.
  • Perfect meal : whole wheat toast with banana and cinnamon (Combination of slow and fast release of energy)

During activity

  • Water (best hydrator)
  • Sports drinks if players are sweating a lot (Nutrients to replace electrolytes)
  • Energy gels – only for an endurance athlete (over 90 minutes of exercise)

Post exercise (30-120 minutes after exercise recommended)

  • Shakes
  • Protein bars
  • Energy bars
  • Any meal that contains lean protein, starch and vegetables.

By experimenting and improving your knowledge about the subject areas covered in this blog you can only look at maximising your coach performance and the performance levels of your team, not only in the first few training sessions back but throughout the whole year. The Preparation, execution and evaluation processes enable a fantastic blend that will give you a platform to fulfil yours and your team’s full potential, only in sport but in life.


Ryan Byrne, R.B. Coaching Limited - Professional football coach and 1to1 specialist



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