Preseason Conditioning: The Key to Performance and Injury Prevention

Published on: 11/01/2016
With busy summer schedules filled with social events and vacations, most athletes neglect an important component of training for their sport-preseason conditioning. Injury rates at the start of sporting seasons soar as a consequence of the summer "couch potato" transition to competitive athletics during the first few weeks of opening season. Preseason conditioning facilitates the athlete's safety in the first half of the season. Engaging in six-to-eight weeks of preseason conditioning has positive effects on both injury prevention and performance enhancement. Conditioning targeted to reduce ACL injuries is particularly effective. Programs that incorporate neuromuscular control exercises and plyometric training have the potential to decrease the risk of an in-season ACL injury by up to 72 percent. For optimal impact on performance and injury prevention, young athletes should engage in a preseason conditioning program six weeks prior to beginning their competitive sporting season.

An effective preseason conditioning program should include the following:
  • Plyometric (jump) training
  • Balance training
  • Individualized feedback on technique
  • Resistance training

Fundamental movement skills and sports performance - The mountain of motor development

With an increasing number of elementary schools dropping physical education class from their curriculum or opting for "virtual" physical education programs, many school-aged children are failing to reach a key developmental milestone - the mastery of fundamental movement skills. Skipping, jumping hopping dribbling and a variety of other basic motor skills serve as building blocks for higher-level sports.

A failure to master fundamental movements during one's elementary school years can result in an inability to achieve what is called "motor proficiency" or reaching one's full-movement capacity. In the mountain of motor development, fundamental movement skills act as the base of a mountain, leading to motor proficiency at the peak. A child who has not mastered basic motor skills, usually faces challenges in mastering higher-level sporting skills, such as sprinting and cutting. This also might contribute to poor sports performance and/or increased risk of sports injury. In addition, young people who have not developed a variety of movement patterns may have less flexibility in changing sports or player positions. Research1234 has shown that these children are also more likely to have earlier drop-out rates from competitive sports, as well as decreased lifelong fitness.

If a school does not offer physical education and has dropped it from the curriculum, we strongly encourage parents to engage their children in activities outside of school to help them develop the fundamental motor skills needed to remain active and healthy for a lifetime.

1. T. Clark, J. E. y Metcalf, 1 S. (2002) The mountain of motor development A metaphor. In J. E. Clark DIM. Humphrey (Eds) Motor development Research and reviews, volume 2 (pp. 163-190). Reston, VA: National Association for Sport and Physical Education.
2. Elizabeth Sarah Bryant, Rob S. lames, Samantha Louise Birch Er Mike Duncan (2014) Prediction of habitual physical activity level and weight status from fundamental movement skill level. Journal of Sports Sciences, 32:19,1775-1782. DOl: 10.1080/026404142014.918644
3. Hardy. L., Reinten-Reynolds. T, Espinel, P., Zask, A., Er Okely, A. (2012). Prevalence and ccrrelates of low fundamental movement skill competences in children. Pediatrics. 130, e390-e398.
4. Seefeldt. V. (1980). Developmental motor patterns: Implications for elementary school physical education. In C. Nadeau. W. Holliwell K. Newell, & G. Roberts (Eds.). Psychology of motor behavior and sport (pp.314-323). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

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