How to Prepare For a Season That Doesn’t Have a Start Date


By Ricci Persico


Now that we are out of Lockdown and nearing Level Two, can we please leave the mind-numbing circuits behind? No one needs, nor should, want to complete 1000 burpees within a week, or even a month! Currently NZ is in Level Three and we have just found out that sport can and will be played at Level Two. If you are serious about your performance, hopefully your training has changed over the last week or two to reflect this return to sport. This can be hard with no equipment or coach – especially when the season doesn’t have a start date yet.


It seems likely that Sport NZ will roll out a “4-week Return to Sport” period prior to any sports season commencing. This will be done to help minimise (but not prevent) the increase in injury rate that could occur from moving from non-specific training into sport specific training and games where athletes must jump, land, accelerate, decelerate and for some, use their body as a battering ram. This decision is based off plenty of research, some of which came about after the infamous NFL Lockout in 2011.


The 2011 NFL Lock Out: A Brief Summary


In 2011, the NFL had a “lock-out” which lasted 5 months. This was the result of the 32 NFL team owners and the NFL players association not agreeing to the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The owners of the NFL teams locked their facilities so that the athletes couldn’t train. It didn’t stop there, players were not able to see or even communicate with team staff such as doctors, physios, trainers and coaches! When they finally agreed to the terms, the players – who normally had 14 weeks of off-season/pre-season training before pre-season games started – had 17 days of team training… What happened during those 17 days and leading into the 2011 NFL season was the highest reported rates of Achilles tendon ruptures since the start of the NFL. 10 ruptures in the first 12 days of pre-season.


While 10 ruptures may not seem like a worst case scenario given playing sport carries some inherent risk, a longer, properly planned return to sport programme could have helped minimise the risk of injury. This scenario, although very different to the current situation we find ourselves in, has a lot of similarities. The inability to train at a facility has meant that although we have still been working out over this period in our “home gyms”, we still haven’t been training close to how we would if we were able to train at a gym/team facility.


What Should our Four Week Return to Sport Programme Look Like?


It all comes down to easing yourself back into training and using the four weeks to progress back to the level you were at (or above that level) rather than jumping straight back in where you left off.


1) At the gym, don’t go straight back to the weight you squatted pre COVID-19, instead, focus on moving a lighter weight faster – with more intent and build the weight over the coming weeks.


2) During conditioning sessions, we want to consider the type and intensity of movement we are completing. Although you may be fitter from all of the running you have been doing, you may have neglected high-intensity running which is more likely to carry over to your sport. High-intensity running puts us at a higher risk of soft-tissue injuries (think blowing a hamstring) if our tissues aren’t prepared for the amount of training we are doing. Therefore, it is important that we progress our distances, especially high intensity running over the four weeks! To put it simply, train smart and progress over time. You need to earn the right to train at the level you were at pre COVID. And if you are serious about your performance – ask a professional for help with four-week training block and beyond.

 Organise a consultation with our Head S&C Ricci now to take your performance this season to the next level!

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