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  • Adam Todd

Strength Training for Team Sports

Updated: Nov 14, 2020



Strength training has become an integral part of an athlete’s development, and it has been shown in the research to have many benefits in helping athletes reach and achieve their potential.


Team sports has several physical requirements with common training goals including: Hypertrophy, Maximum Strength, Explosive Power, Metabolic Conditioning and Injury Prevention.


This blog will talk about developing Strength Training for athletes that play team sports. (In a previous Blog I talked about a method to develop Metabolic Conditioning)


What is Strength? -


Strength is defined as the ability to generate maximum external force. In physics and mechanics, Force is defined as an instantaneous measure of the interaction between two bodies.


Force manifests itself in two ways:

The movement of a body is changed

The body is deformed


Many different forces exist within athletic movement and in biomechanics they are divided into two groups:

  1. INTERNAL- A force that is exerted by one part of the human body to another part of the body. i.e. Bone on bone, Tendon on bone.

  2. EXTERNAL- The forces acting between an athlete and the environment. i.e. Athlete to floor, athlete to barbell.

(Zatsiorsky and Kraemer, 2006)


The demands of team sports mean that athlete’s may have to exert a large force against gravity in order to manipulate their own body mass (e.g. sprinting, jumping) or against the body mass of an opponent’s body mass (e.g. Tackling in rugby) or manipulate an instrument or projectile (e.g. Bowling and batting in cricket). With all these examples it may be considered that strength is the limiting factor of performance.

Considerations-

Here is the process I use when developing a program for Team sports athletes.


  • Demand of the sport- Performing a Needs analysis will help to identify the specific areas of fitness and training that need more focus, in order to improve their physical performance capabilities.

  • For field Sport: Sprinting, Turning, Jumping, Landing, Passing, Shooting, Tackling. Aerobic Capacity.


  • Common Injuries- Researching common injuries will help to give an understanding of the common problems that athletes may endure, and to know the specific areas to target to reduce injuries will help in the planning of sessions.

  • For field sports: Ankle, knees, Hamstring, Quads, Glutes, Calves or impact injuries.


  • Movement screen- Helps to uncover any dysfunctions the athletes may have; these can then be addressed before training to make sure no unnecessary injuries occur during training.


  • Basic movement Competencies- Making sure the athlete can perform the basic movements before training will show the athletes training level and will give an idea of where to start. Either be able to go straight in with a program or spend time teaching them how to Squat, Lift, Push, Pull, Jump, Land, and Core Control.


  • Anatomical Adaptation- This Phase will look at laying the foundations for the athlete to build upon.

  • Increase lean body mass, decrease fat mass and alterations to the connective tissue.

  • Increase work capacity- Use Super-Sets, Tri-sets and Metabolic Conditioning (MET CON) sessions.

  • Neuromuscular and conditioning foundations to help prevent injuries- Use Mobility, Stability and Core exercises.

  • Hypertrophy rep range (8-12)- High volume/ low intensity

  • 4-6 weeks.


  • Basic Strength Phase- This Phase will build on the foundations and develop general strength

  • Increase neuromuscular strength- Focus on technique and control.

  • Maintain work capacity- Use Single sets and Super-sets with MET CON at end of session.

  • Neuromuscular and conditioning foundations to help prevent injuries- Use Mobility, Stability and Core exercises.

  • Strength rep range (8-4)- Medium Volume/ Medium Intensity

  • 4-6 weeks.


  • Max Strength Phase- This Phase will take the strength we have built and use it to develop Max Strength.

  • Increase neuromuscular strength- Focus on technique and control.

  • Maintain work capacity- Use Single sets and Super-sets with MET CON at end of session.

  • Neuromuscular and conditioning foundations to help prevent injuries- Use Mobility, Stability and Core exercises.

  • Max Strength rep range (4-1)- Low Volume/ High Intensity.

  • 4-6 weeks.


  • Strength and Power Phase-

  • Increase neuromuscular strength and Power- Focus is still on technique but we are looking a move the weight quicker.

  • Complex movement which mimic the positions athletes may find themselves in, Olympic Lifts, Plyometrics.

  • Maintain work capacity- Use Single sets and Super-sets with MET CON at end of session.

  • Neuromuscular and conditioning foundations to help prevent injuries- Use Mobility, Stability and Core exercises.

  • Power rep range (1-5)- low Volume/ Medium to high Intensity.

  • 4-6 weeks.

Example of a strength training progression-


Warm up-


Mobility- Foam rolling, Ankle Mobility, Hip Mobility, T-Spine Mobility and Shoulder Mobility


Muscle Activation- Inchworms x8, Worlds Greatest Stretch x8 es, Glute Bridges x8 and Press up with toe touch x8 es, Lunge Matrix x3 es.


Performance Prep- Barbell Complex (RDL, Bent Over Row, Front Squat, Military Press) x5, Jumping and landing Mechanics.

es- EACH SIDE


This is an example of a single day within a wider training program, the athletes would hopefully be able to include 3-4 gym session during the week so that all aspects of athletic development can be covered.


This session would have been used after all of the check boxes above have been completed, and any changes in the sport or the athlete would change the program.





References-


Akenhead. R.M, 2014. ‘Examining the Physical and Physiological Demands of Elite Football’. PHD, Northumbria University, Newcastle.


Bompa T.O., Haff. G.G, 2009. Periodization: Theory and Methodology of Training. 5th ED. Human Kinetics: United States of America


Gamble. P, 2013. Strength and Conditioning for Team Sports: Sport-Specific

Physical Preparation for High Performance. 2nd ED. Routledge: United States of America


Zatsiorsky. V.M., Kraemer. W.J, 2006. Science and Practice of Strength Training. 2nd ED. Human Kinetics: United States of America.

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