• Chris Bacon

Keeping athletes fit and motivated during lockdown

The word “unprecedented” seems to be at the forefront of everyone’s vocabulary at the moment, what with the current situation worldwide. However, it is important to keep reminding ourselves, and more crucially, athletes, that there will be an end to these crazy times. Therefore, keeping your athletes fit and motivated for when they return to action is possibly more important than ever.

Over the past few weeks there is a good chance that your athletes have regressed physically. Given that there aren’t any specific expiry dates that come with a pandemic, there is a chance that athletes will continue to regress in the coming weeks as well. The fitness components that typically regress first are highlighted in the below image:

Source: Issurin, V. (2008). “Block Periodization: Breakthrough in Sports Training”, New York, NY: Ultimate Athlete Concepts

This table demonstrates the need to label speed and power as high priorities to stop athletes losing these fitness components. Simple 20-25 minute sessions at least once per week will help athletes retain their speed and power. To target speed and power, here are some examples of exercises that can easily be completed with basic items:

For Speed: Box Drill - Set out 4 different coloured cones/objects in a square (preferably 5m by 5m) and one cone/object in the centre of the square. Write down a sequence of the cones/objects in the corners, e.g. red, blue, blue, green, yellow, red, etc. Begin in the centre cone and then follow your sequence, always returning to the centre after going out to the appropriate corner. Complete 5-8 times in total.

For Power: Hurdle Jumps - Place 4 hurdles/objects in a row with 1m distance between. Set a start point 2m away from the first hurdle. Begin at that start point and run up to the hurdles/objects. Jump over each hurdle/object one after the other with two feet and land softly, bending your knees to build momentum for the next jump. After the first run-through, turn and head back through the jumps to the initial start point. Complete 3 front jump sets, then switch to side jump sets (both left and right leg leading) for 3 times and finish with front jumps. Complete this whole sequence 3-5 times.

One of the best ways to keep mass is through performing resistance exercises a few times a week which can be done without the use of maximal loads/weights. Regular, minimal resistance sessions should help maintain this fitness component over time. Here is a simple resistance routine your athletes can complete at home: Workout Details: 9 exercises, 4 sets per exercise, 35 seconds work with 25 seconds rest in between (45 seconds rest after 3 exercises). Equipment Needed: 2 similar-sized weights and a chair. For some of the exercises, athletes could also use a weighted backpack to make things more challenging.

Exercise Order: Static Lunges (with lighter weights) Decline Push-Ups (using chair) Bent over Fly (with lighter weights) Squat & Press (with lighter weights) Hollow Rock Box Handstand with Push-Ups Single-Leg Lunge (with lighter weights) Upright Row (with lighter weights) Lying Subscap Extension (with lighter weights) The best way to integrate Aerobic Endurance into training is as a break between resistance and speed/power sessions throughout the week. 2 sessions a week at no more than 80% Heart Rate Max is a great way to keep the programme fresh and varied. Below is a potential broad training plan:

In addition to maintaining fitness, athlete motivation is an equally important factor for coaches to target throughout this period, in order to keep athletes operating at their optimum levels. This is slightly more challenging from a distance, but not impossible. Sharing a calendar with your athletes is the first simple step to ensure everyone knows what the expectations are, and it provides a much-needed routine for athletes that are accustomed to a schedule. Komodo provides a centralised calendar with different event types to clearly block out schedules, prescribe programmes, and, utilising push notifications, keep everyone updated. If you’re not using Komodo, use the tool that is most commonly used across your athletes. iCal, Google calendar, etc. Using communication tools such as video conferencing platforms to get everyone involved is a great way to keep that community feeling - as well as calling out those not in attendance! My takeaway tip is to set up a Zoom training session for your team at least once a week. Both Watford FC and Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League showcased the success of this tactic early on in lockdown.

Image: EPL teams, Tottenham Hotspur FC (Left) and Watford FC, utilising virtual training sessions to continue fitness programmes during lockdown.

In terms of general communication, make sure that no one is isolating themselves. If you’re a Komodo customer, using our communications feed will help you check in with your athletes, but it also gives them an opportunity to express concerns. If you’re currently without a communication platform, generic messaging apps will work fine, but they work best if everyone utilises the same one. Throughout this current scenario, we should look to provide engaging routines wherever possible. Remember to narrow your focus and target the fitness components that will suffer the most, and stay in touch with your athletes throughout! Social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation.

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