Your Fitness is Vital
Your physical fitness is absolutely vital to your success as a professional athlete. It is also the key to your movement and positioning, improved performance as well as increases your confidence and enjoyment. When the situation gets really tough, when the heat is really on, with supreme fitness, you know you have what it takes to succeed.
Conducting fitness tests of each of the components necessary for your sport is essential. Depending on your sport, these might include, strength, power and muscular endurance, speed, agility, balance, reaction and response time, aerobic and anaerobic endurance, flexibility, etc. The more specific these tests are to your sport, the better.
For example, if you are a rower, kyaker or canoeist, a sprint test on land is not relevant to your performance. For many ball and racquet sports like basketball, football or tennis, the ability to start, stop and change direction quickly and effectively is paramount to your success and these tests should be specific to the sport.
Again, it is all about the details to determine accurate measurements. The higher the quality of equipment, the better the results too. It is very difficult to obtain accurate measurements in milliseconds of a player over a few meters with a hand held watch, for example
Depending on your sport, speed can be measured in many different ways too. For example, first step, ability to accelerate, speed over 2 or 5 meters for example, backwards movement, sideways: right and left, planned agility, reactive agility, speed endurance, agility endurance, etc! The more information your strength and conditioning coach has, the better he or she can design your programs and prepare you for success.
I remember conducting speed tests at Essendon Football Club, a National Aussie Rules Team back in the late 80’s and we set speed gates up at 10m, 30 and 70 metres and tested 60 players. What really amazed me is the guys you knew to be quickest on the ground weren’t always the quickest ones over the first ten metres, but when it got to more than 30 metres, they were super fast. The key learning here is that you need to really make your training specific.
By finding out such information, we were able to tailor team speed sessions into three groups from acceleration work, short distance and longer distance speed work. Having also conducted many other tests such as tests of strength and power, flexibility, and planned and reactive agility, we were also able to determine exactly what were the limiting factors in that players speed and address them more specifically in their training drills on the field and in the gym.
It is also important to get the coaches perspective and the physiotherapist’s opinion in here as well as that will aid greatly to your program and it is especially important that all members of the coaching team really understand what each other is doing so they can all support each other and their athletes together. Winning is always a team effort, even if you are playing an individual sport.