For thousands of professional and amateur sports players, the end of the summer holidays means that a new winter sports season is just around the corner. Football, rugby and hockey teams across the country will be gearing up to welcome new and existing players back to training and fixtures. So, now is the perfect time to start preparing (if you haven’t already done so) for your own return to physical activity too. This will help prevent unwanted sports injuries and support you in your quest to play at the top of your game.
Building back to brilliance
Unfortunately, it’s just not possible to spend a lazy summer on the beach and expect to sweep straight back into the winter sports season at the same level as before. Your body will have changed, even if you don’t notice it in everyday activity. Your stamina will have lessened. Or that you can’t do quite so many reps of an exercise or run quite as fast.
The good news is that there is plenty you can do to restore your former sporting prowess and get back into shape. There are lots of resources online to get you started, ready for the winter sports season. All it takes is some time, effort, and the return of a few good habits.
Set some goals
Start positive as you go back to club sports for the winter season by working out what you want to do and how you can get there. Set yourself some goals. A good model to follow for goal setting is one taken for the business world – Think SMART.
- Specific – know what you want to achieve and what the details are so you can stay on track
- Measurable – be able to measure progress to keep yourself motivated as you get fitter and stronger
- Achievable – don’t expect too much of yourself all at once. Make your goals manageable and don’t be too hard on yourself as you ease yourself back in
- Relevant – stay focused and choose goals that will directly help you in your new sports season. For E.g. aim to try out for a certain team or achieve a personal best time in your running
- Timely – work out how long you have got to get back in shape and plan accordingly. Don’t push too hard too fast or you will risk injury
Get in shape
Staying fit and healthy will help you in all aspects of life, not just when going back to training after a break or working to avoid sports injuries. Work out an exercise plan that incorporates plenty of variety around cardio, resistance training, stretching, running and preparing for your specific sports or activities. Look into areas such as yoga and Pilates to supplement your plan. Ask a coach or sports expert for help if you don’t know where to start. Next, write out a timetable and stick to it. Every time you complete a training session, you will be that bit stronger and closer to your goal.
Sort out your gear
Now is the time to make sure that your sports gear and training equipment is all fit for your purpose. If you haven’t already done so, check everything is in good repair. See if you need any new kit such as a helmet, gloves, bat, racket, clubs, or protective pads. Do you have a decent gym bag to carry everything in without it spilling out and getting damaged?
Have you had a mouthguard properly fitted to protect your teeth and gums? This is not just essential for children – adults can benefit hugely from decent protective gear like this as well. If in doubt, ask a professional sports shop for help. Don’t forget to get yourself measured for trainers or sports shoes while you are there too, as these need to be fitted properly to help secure your feet, prevent blisters, and help protect against sports injuries such as sprains, twists, and breaks.
Have an MOT
Just as we take our cars into the garage for a check-up every year, it is a good idea to do the same for our bodies. Especially if we are about to subject them to a new burst of sporting activity or we are feeling our age. Make a note of any questions or niggles you may have experienced over the summer and ask if there are any exercises that could help you prepare for the winter sports season. They may recommend additional supports if you are nursing old sports injuries or are concerned about any weaknesses in your limbs.
Finally, take a new look at your diet as part of your overall back-to-winter sports MOT. If you eat well, your body will respond and perform better, So, put those summer ice creams down now. Fuel your body properly with lots of proteins, vegetables, and healthy foods to help you enjoy some sporting glory this season. Cut down on, or eliminate alcohol and smoking wherever possible. Keep a food diary and allow yourself the odd cheat meal to keep you motivated.