Bulletproof Your Body for the Post-Covid 19 Sporting Season

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We’re nearly there.

The goalposts are going up, white lines are being freshly drawn on grass fields, the team kit is being pressed and the club administrators are beginning the arduous task of rebooting the season in a Covid-19 environment.

But are you really ready for the demands of the season?

As Australia emerges from the bubble of our home offices, home gyms and virtual socialising we’re doing a quick stocktake on our health and fitness status. Is it in the same place it was before the madness?

Chances are, it’s not.

Home offices tend to lack the ergonomics to support us, home gyms tend to lack equipment, quality programming (and umm, motivation) and kicking a footy around by yourself doesn’t have the same appeal, so our basic skills might be a touch rusty.

So how do we get our body back to our Bulletproof Best for an injury-free season and a winners trophy at the end.

Here’s your cheat sheet:

Skills Training

It seems kinda basic, but just getting a ball in hand (or at your feet) and going through the motions of the elementary skills of your sport is essential. During the time out of training our reflex actions start to diminish and our motor control gets a little sluggish.

They say “it’s just like riding a bike” – and it is. But you can’t expect to just jump on that bike and win the Tour de France. Take a big slice of humble pie and go practice the basics before you start worrying about trick shots and flair.

Mobility

Depending on your sport, you might need a lot of this or a little. Our body is awesome at adapting to the demands we place upon it – start completing movements that push our range of motion and our body will do it’s best to adapt.

But the same principle works in reverse.

If you’ve just spent 8 weeks alternating between Netflix binge sessions and working from your laptop whilst slouching into your couch, guess what just happened to your mobility?

Start slow, find the limitations in your range of motion and slowly build up the range and speed of movement to avoid ending up on the physio table before the season even starts.

Strength

It’s not just our joint mobility that suffers with non-use – our strength takes massive backward steps in a phenomenon scientists like to call the Detraining effect. As a rough rule of thumb, you lose strength gains at twice the rate that you gain them. So 8 weeks of negative training will cost you a sweet 16 weeks to recover to your previous status.

Although the previous statements can be daunting and frustrating – you can make some serious inroads in your strength in just 4 weeks with a well-structured program. Start by spending your training energy on movements that give you your biggest bang for your buck – squats, lunges, deadlifts for the lower body and pushing/pulling movements like bench presses, chin-ups, and rows for the upper body.

Speed / Agility

If you haven’t been working up to your max speeds during isolation, it’s safe to say that now is not the time to start. The strength and muscular coordination required to max your land speed is considerable, and 2 months of isolation is not the ideal prep work.

During the organic flow of team sports, we rarely hit our max speed. More often than not our acceleration is slowed or stopped by play moving a different direction or running into an opponent of greater (umm…) mass.

So spend your shortened preseason on maxing your strength and game-specific conditioning before you refocus on bringing out your inner Usain Bolt.

Contact Sports

In an environment where you don’t even want contact with your hairdresser for fear of ‘the Rona’, the thought of deliberately running into another sweaty, hyper-ventilating human being seems foreign.

But contact sports require full-contact training. And even though sporting bodies are doing their best to offer alternative rules to shorten the contact time between individuals on the field and training – at some point, we’re going to need to go through the motions of fending, rucks, scrums and tackling to recondition our body’s to the demands.

As with all of the items above, start slow. Begin with close contact wrestling drills or contact at half speeds before progressing to the organic speed of your sport.

Best of luck for the season ahead. Play well and stay safe.