Quite often on training days we forget to prepare and our routines are often quite different to match day, usually we are coming straight from work getting right into a lap or two and then straight into skills and away we go. To optimally perform we want to prepare as optimally as possible, here are Seven (7) things you can do before commencing training to increase your mobility and range of motion, as well as taking you from your current state to the optimal state prior to sport (loose, warm, aroused etc.)
Self Myo fascial Release (SMR)
Roll through your main muscle groups about to be worked. I.e. Hamstrings, Quadriceps, Glutes/Hips and Low back. Spend 20-30 seconds on the ‘sticky’ points of these muscles, this is the point of the muscle we are trying to break down. If you do not have access to a foam roller, things you could use that are synonymous with a football club, is footballs, use that as a last resort.
I often go for a complete body muscle activation routine, typically I start lying my back with some Dead bugs, Hold you core tight and think about your back remaining flat throughout the entire movement (ideally you want your arms and legs “opposites” extending at the same time, and coming back to the mid point), I then move on to some Glute bridges, forcing a 10 second hold at the peak of the moment I then progress this to get through 10 single leg glue bridges, and finish off with some elevated push ups and inverted rows if the fencing allows.
My personal favourites for these are Arabesques, and half kneeling hip flexor flosses and Leg Swings. Try to do each of these for around a minute in each of these movement or 10 reps of each if time is tight.
Neural priming is a charging type effect also known as post activation potentiation (PAP), often used for increasing power movements like the vertical jump, or a 6 minute run above lactate threshold (basically a hard run) 10 minutes before an event. Effectively your nervous system is “warmed up” with a heavy/intense movement prior to moving onto a second exercise (the second exercise has been given an advantage as the neural drive is increased through a higher firing rate and an increased motor unit recruitment). In a practical sense you would go through some repeat effort plyometrics, such as 3-5 successive broad jumps, bounds over 20 metres, or 2*400 metre sub maximal sprints.
Working on landing mechanics is vital and often missed throughout a training session and sometimes a whole season, here you can learn to take the load from a varied range of jumps, off centre movements etc. Ideally you want to mimic some movements that would happen within the sport, for example you could work through double leg lands, off centre jumps with a catch of the ball, continuous single leg lands, high bounds and 180 degree turn and land. There are endless variations you can utilise.
Working through tight joints with a history of stiffness or injury should be made a priority for individuals, although a point should be made to have a stretch ~60 seconds of the main muscle to be used (hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, hip flexors). It has been a contentios topic, pre training/match stretching, but it has not been proven to cause a detrimental effect on sports training/running, only in reducing power output.
Again another often overlooked aspect of team/individual sports training, unless in the rehab group itself. You can work on common injuries associated with your sport, whether it be hamstring strains (think Partnered Nordic curls, straight leg blue bridges, Romanian deadlifts) or Ankle sprains (partner assisted dorsiflexion, plantar flexion, eversion and inversion as well as proprioception/balance based drills).
Some other things to consider could be hand eye coordination/low complexity skill drills, change of direction and acceleration/deceleration drills.
Ideal Items of use: Foam roller, physic ball and resistance bands