Playing Sports? 3 Tips to Prepare You for the Season

by Dan Black, CSCS, Exercise Physiologist & Supervisor, MedStar Health at Lafayette Centre
August 29, 2019

Playing sports is a lot of fun. It helps you get in shape, spend time with friends, and learn how to be a part of a team. However, participating in sports can be a challenge if you don’t prepare your body the right way.

Most high school and college sports begin practices only a couple weeks before games begin. Unfortunately, this doesn’t provide you much time to get in shape or allow you to gradually increase your workout intensity, giving your body time to get used to the type of movements your sport requires. Allowing yourself time to adjust can help maximize overall performance and reduce your risk of injury.

Follow the tips below to help prevent injury and ensure you perform at your best once the season starts.

Being in shape before the beginning of a sports season can not only help you avoid #injury, but also maximize your #performance. Learn more, plus tips to get in shape for your #sport. via @MedStarHealth

Click to Tweet

  1. Condition for Your Sport

Since every sport requires different types of movements, it’s important you train your body based on the sport you play. For example, football and basketball players often run in short bursts, increasing and then decreasing their speed quickly. Soccer players and other field sport athletes may be required to perform longer sprints.

Try to copy the type of movements your sport requires. One great way to do this is by playing pickup games at school or a local recreation center. But, don’t overdo it in the beginning—you want to provide your body time to get used to the activity. For example, let’s say you’re playing pickup basketball. Consider playing for 30 minutes when you first start and gradually increase the amount of time.

When you jump into sports too fast, you’re more susceptible to fatigue or tiredness, which can impact your decision-making and performance, increasing your risk of injury.

  1. Stay Hydrated

Maintaining proper hydration is vital to your health and performance when playing sports. In fact, being just one to two percent dehydrated can significantly impact your performance.

Staying hydrated can be challenging when you’re exercising regularly—especially during the summer and early-fall months. I recommend sipping on water throughout the day and monitoring your urine. (If it’s a dark yellow, like apple juice, you’re not drinking enough). You also can weigh yourself before and after your workout to determine how much fluid you lost. Try drinking at least two liters of water every day, which equals to eight eight-ounce glasses of water. Everyone’s needs are different, however, so make sure to increase your intake if you feel it’s not enough.

Related Reading: 4 Ways to Protect Yourself From the Summer Heat

  1. Stretch Regularly and Build Muscle (When Necessary)

Stretching is a great way to improve flexibility, prepare your body for dynamic movements, and prevent injury. This can include static stretches after training as well as dynamic ones that prepare your body and joints for the range of motion that you use frequently during competition. This isn’t to say an offensive lineman is better off if he has the flexibility of a yoga teacher, but maintaining flexibility so that you easily have enough range of motion to perform your activities is excellent for your body.

Strength training can also help certain athletes reduce injury risk and improve performance. If your sport requires you to reach over your head frequently, such as in tennis or basketball, it’s important that you regularly perform exercises that strengthen your rotator cuff. Make sure to reach out to your performance coach, doctor, or physical therapist if you have any questions about strengthening certain parts of your body.

A Real Life Example

We once worked with one young man who is now in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Throughout college, he maximized his performance through weight training, flexibility exercises, cardiovascular health, and nutrition. He’d always go into preseason practices fit enough to get through two a day practices and lead his teammates through team exercises. This not only helped him play better but also become a leader, as his work ethic stood out to his teammates and coaches. This athlete treated his off seasons like a part-time job, and in his case, it really paid off.

Don’t rely on training camp or the beginning of practices to get in shape for your sports season. Rather, use these tips to ensure you’re in shape ahead of time so that your body is ready for the season from the start.

Need assistance preparing for your sports season? Or, do you want to speak with a doctor
about an existing sports injury?

Schedule an Appointment

Category: Staying Active     Tags: Exercisehydrationpreventing injuryrunningsportssports trainingWellness