The Importance of Preseason Workouts
Preseason is one of the most important cycles in the season, because it is when you develop the foundation of strength, speed and aerobic capacity that will be the building block of you or your team’s physical conditioning.
What does preseason mean to me?
Preseason is the time just before your season is about to start (i.e. girls high school, college soccer). This is the time to building your aerobic and strength conditioning, and to work on speed. The reason is that preseason workouts are supposed to prepare you to be at the peak of your physical conditioning so you or your team can be ready for the start of the season, which “officially” starts with your first game.
How long should the program be?
Preseason workouts at a college and professional level can vary, but they are usually 6-8 weeks. When time is limited and you have only 4-6 weeks, it is recommended to focus on specific goals and work towards them.
What are the components of preseason?
- Speed power - Sprints from various positions (0-30m acceleration, 30-60m max speed), hills, sled work, ins & outs … crossovers with sled, crossovers, mirror drills, sprints from jumping, tag games, live soccer drills; merging technique with speed (conjugated exercises).
- Technical - Wall drills, butt kicks, A-Skip, B-Skip, skips, build-ups, small hurdles, sled pushes, coordination ladder drills, shuffling, crossovers, deceleration techniques, lateral skips, and quick-feet (repositioning).
- Explosive, low-intensity plyometrics (aerobic) - Throws against the wall (upper body & core), jumping rope, line drills, coordination ladder, low box drills, zig-zag hops, jumps and bounds.
- Deceleration - Jump and stick variations (double leg and single leg), bound and stick, lateral jump and stick, and side lunge and stick.
- Explosive strength - Throws, vertical jump, broad jump, triple jump, step-up jump, squat jump, lunge jump, scissors, side-to-side jump, zig-zag bounds, side-lunges and lateral step-up jumps.
- Reactive Strength - Depth jumps, hurdle jumps, bounding, power skipping, LL-RR bounds, rim jumps, pre-run jumps, side-to-side hurdle jumps, cone jumps, squats, front squats, split squats, lunges, lateral lunges, step-ups, roll-outs, leg lifts, curls, side bridges, full-contact twists and high-rep curls.
- Aerobic capacity
- “Comfortable” running for 20-40 minutes at 80-85-percent maximum heart rate; 2-minute runs at 80-percent max HR with 1-minute easy jog, extensive tempo; polygons and technique work 8v8-5v5 80-90-percent max HR, 6-30min, < 1min rest, 1-8 reps
|Aerobic||Intensity||Work interval||Rest interval|
|Neuromuscular power||Maximum||6-15 sec.||2-5 min.|
|Anaerobic power||Just Below Maximum||30-45 sec.||2-5 min.|
|Anaerobic capacity||High||60-90 sec.||60-90 sec.|
|Aerobic power||above max steady state||2-5 min.||2-5 min.|
|Aerobic capacity||at/near max steady state||8-20 min.||4-10 min.|
- Aerobic power
- Billat’s intervals like 15-15, 30-30, 60-60, even 2-5 min. with 1:1 rest organized in shuttles or straight line; polygons and technique work. 4v4-3v3 90-100-percent max HR, 3-6 min., 1:1 to 1:2 work-to-rest, 4-8 reps.
- Glycolytic power (mental toughness)
- Suicides, shuttles, RSA, polygons and technique work 2v2-3v3 (possession) > 85-percent max HR, 20 sec.-3 min,, 2-4 sets of 4-8 reps, 1-4 rest-to-work ratio.
What are some preseason concerns?
- Make sure a proper dynamic warm-up and stretching are done before starting any type of workout to minimize the risk of injury.
- Progression is the key. If as a coach or player you are a fan of suicides on the first day, the probabilities of getting injured is high since the muscles have not been trained before starting the hard workout. (This is the job of preseason workouts)
- Tiring out athletes before playing small-sided or even full games with the aim of developing specific pacing strategies when fatigued and the ability to push in the last minutes, is a way of developing mental toughness, according to some coaches’ philosophy.
- Depending on the age, level of participation and goals, building aerobic capacity should not be as important as developing technique, particularly when athletes are young.
- Make sure you consult your team’s conditioning trainer and develop goals to achieve. If your club lack a trainer, make sure you use caution and progression on exercises.
- Physicals are highly recommended before the beginning of any conditioning program. Also, making sure all athletes with breathing problems have their inhalers before the start of activity is a safe measure.