Sports Conditioning... an Edge Over the Competition

By: Karen Goeller

Sports Conditioning offers an edge over the competition. The purpose of sports conditioning is to complement current sports training. Sports conditioning is more demanding than general fitness training. Sports conditioning is ideal for children who strive for greater performance in any sporting activity. It is meant to enhance an individual's strength, balance, coordination, flexibility, speed, and power, which can be carried over into all sports.

Athletes perform exercises with weights, fitness bands, medicine balls, bodyweight, etc. Athletes and coaches are constantly seeking an advantage over the competition to help them achieve an edge. Many teams and athletes can gain an edge over the competition through intense sports conditioning programs. A good sports conditioning program incorporates specific skills into strength and conditioning to help athlete target specific performance requirements.

Besides improved performance, the conditioning program is an important step in injury prevention. Many athletes are not aware that sports conditioning is a necessity for injury prevention. Conditioning can help develop the strength, flexibility, and agility necessary to protect joints from injury. In recent years more coaches and parents have come to realize the benefits of a conditioning program. Proper training can reduce the incidence of injury in young athletes and also offers teams a chance to grow strong together. Teaching a young athlete proper technique will prevent injury and ensure results, but there is always a chance for injury, even if the body is properly protected and conditioned.

Sports conditioning helps prepare athletes to better able to apply their sport-specific skills. Traditional fitness training is great for helping people look good and achieve basic fitness goals such as weight loss, strength gain, cardiovascular endurance, and more flexibility. Athletes of all levels and abilities need a more sports-oriented training program besides general fitness. Young athletes must include unique exercises that feed into the skill requirements of their sports.

Sports conditioning should be directly related to the type of sport in which the individual participates. A good conditioning program includes strength, power, speed, quickness, agility, movement skills, deceleration, balance, reactivity and anaerobic capacity. The conditioning program should be specific to the sport and should meet the individual needs of the athlete.

The only way to train for peak performance is to have a plan. The conditioning should be complementary to the demands of practices and the game itself. The goal should be two-fold, peak performance in games and future goals. The intensity and extent of an individualized program should take into account the physical needs of the athlete and their goals after a careful evaluation, the time frame established to reach the goals, and the amount of hours each week an athlete can regularly devote to a program.

Sports conditioning is now a year-round commitment for many athletes. It often includes four training seasons each year: pre-season, in-season, post-season, and off-season. The most important aspect of sports conditioning is establishing a good fitness base. Once the athlete has a high level of general fitness they can begin to train with more advanced and more sport-specific exercises. Youth sports conditioning is a fast growing trend in today's fitness industry. Keep in mind that sports conditioning should be directly related to the sport in which the athlete competes. Most sports conditioning programs are designed for athletes who are training to improve their performance, but they do offer injury prevention benefits because the athlete will become stronger, more flexible, and more ready to compete. Make sure you find a quality program with qualified trainers because your child's health and happiness come first.

By Karen M. Goeller

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