For Field Coaches everywhere - some practical tips to help your people get more athletic and enjoy their sports more, be more competitive and stay injury free!!!
1. Warm Ups
Use warm ups for Development of good movement, running technique and strength.
While I hear many people bemoan and ridicule excessive warm ups (and often they have a point) it is also true that a warm up can be used to develop areas of absolute importance that you may not be certain are addressed elsewhere.
I start virtually all warm ups with some form of a strength-Stability Circuit. I call it Global Movement Circuit, call it what you want, it’s a way of getting the people you are coaching from the stresses physically and mentally of life more ready to actually take part in training. A bridge you could say. Remember many will have been sat at desks or driving in traffic to get to training. They need to readjust. But by doing this you will have more attentive people, and their body more woken up. This means a higher quality session. It means less likelihood of injury. All these things without any conditioning will make someone more athletic.
An example of one I am using recently with a team
Global Movement Prep x1-2 sets
- Lunge Matrix x1 - Lunge In 5 directions
- Down Dog to Rotate x4 e/s
- Inchworms to Push Ups x4
- Nordics x4
- Reverse Nordics
I will generally change this up somewhere between 4 and 8 weeks depending on training age and profile of team.
Another part I feel is critical to Field Sport is Acceleration, Deceleration and running technique. Most field sport athletes do not get good technical track training when they are young (the ones that have stand out a mile). So a simple circuit of access/decels, A/B Marches and Skips is a staple in early season or if I am new with a team. We adjust and will add complexity as we go, but the changes I have seen over the years with teams in their running ability just from these 2 circuits or variations of is quite pronounced.
The next piece of this jigsaw is to hand ownership to the players themselves. After initially teaching they should be able to run this part themselves. We all know a team that feels they are invested in and own their training will buy-in and likely perform better.
Generally after this you can go into some sprints or more game based warm up activities. Very often we will throw in some agility game like bib tag or knee tag or anything really that gets them moving, raises temperature and also has a fun element. This is bringing everything to a pitch so they are ready for the main parts of the session.
Some coaches like to create a warm up, leave the players run it, but then insist it remains the same for the entire year and every session. I certainly disagree with this approach. I don’t think you have to keep changing just for the sake of change but that it evolves while maintaining all our fundamentals and non-negotiables. Staleness may be an issue but also can a lack of adaptation.
Small adjustments along the way (that do not mean a huge re-learning process) can make a nice change up and develop a broader range of movement skills.
Helping an athlete to move better means they will expend less energy within games. Less wasted energy means automatically a team will be fitter as a whole. Again without any specific conditioning.