It’s September as of the time of this writing and it always reminds me of my pre-season training prior to the first day of high school wrestling practice in early November. The season comes up quick with competition starting 3-6 weeks later, so it was always important to be well prepared for grueling practices and my first match.
Start with a PRE-preseason
An ideal pre-season (or PRE-preseason) workout plan with the first competition being around December 1st would have the athlete start on basic strength, conditioning, and flexibility around August 1st. They would begin with:
The basic lifts: presses, rows, squats, and various deadlifts (actually known as core lifts) are important learn and for building strength for the demands of competitive sports.
We can consider this a PRE-preseason with the goal of building base strength and conditioning before team practices start. Reasons why preseason training is extremely important:
The real preseason: October, November for winter sports.
Hopefully by now the athlete will have created good base strength as well as a good aerobic and anaerobic conditioning. If they are just starting a routine now, then a PRE-preseason workout plan will still give them a head start over most athletes at the high school or lower level.
Now is the time to increase the intensity for some serious sessions to build maximal strength and power:
Learning hang cleans and eventually power cleans are a great way for experienced high school athletes to develop power once a strength base is built.
We push to increase strength while always maintaining good technique in all the lifts. For a younger athlete, say a high school freshman, they may only be able to lift as heavy as 10 reps (at 80-90% max) while keeping control of the weights. Other more mature and experienced athletes may be able to do a 1-3 near max safely and with good form. Strength and power is the focus during this period which you want to develop before going into the competitive season. Although power and strength training is done during the season, it comes secondary to sports specific movements and skills. The athlete’s energy should primarily be used to train these specific movements and for competition. The strength and power built now should last through the season since it is being worked through practice and games in addition to less frequent weight training sessions. Once practice starts, the athlete will need to lower their volume in the weight room and in extra conditioning sessions. Their bodies will likely be working hard to adapt to daily sports practice.
Agility ladder drills are great for improving footwork by building rhythm, reaction, and agility. Great for sports like soccer.
Jump training or plyometrics are needed to build reactive strength for all sports and a must for basketball players
Conditioning can be done in the weight room by using a combination of full-body exercises. This is great for wrestling and martial art conditioning. We can train with more specificity as the preseason progresses to competition. Here I am using the Bulgarian style bag training to include the wrestling movements of shooting, standups, and throws.
One last note on weight training for young athletes
Weight training is safe if done correctly and at the appropriate level. Heavier weight training is also safe if done with the same concepts in mind. However, for many young athletes it will take years to build the technique and base strength before a 3 rep max squat should be performed. These heavy workouts help increase performance, but they won’t help if done incorrectly which leads to poor motor recruitment, muscle imbalances, and eventually injury. The point here is to build up gradually, let the body adapt, and to allow the body to transfer this strength over to the sport.
Jerry Yuhara, CPT, CSCS, CMT #75123
299 California Ave, Suite 120
Palo Alto, CA 94306
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