What is Strength and Conditioning?

Strength and conditioning (S&C) involves the physical preparation of athletes who are competing in sport, with the principal goals of strategic performance enhancement and injury prevention. Athletes are a special population, and so this profession is distinct in scope and in the training and background of those involved, from fitness professionals, physiotherapists, allied health practitioners, and physical educators. S&C sessions should consist of a variety of training types to ensure a holistic approach to athlete development:

  • Movement, mobility and injury prevention
  • Strength and power
  • Speed, agility and plyometrics
  • Conditioning for football

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The importance of strength and conditioning for young football players?

Today’s football players are expected to repeatedly execute high-intensity actions which require speed, agility, strength and power throughout matches. Players involved in strength training may see performance benefits such as increased maximal speed, improved anaerobic capacity and reduced or delayed fatigue. Youth strength training programs may increase the muscular strength of children and adolescents, but may also improve motor fitness skills (e.g.  sprinting and jumping) and sports performance. Furthermore, evidence suggests that youth strength training may also decrease the likelihood of sports injuries by increasing the strength of tendons, ligaments and bone.  Resistance training provides an effective way for the development of strength and power in young athletes however direct supervision is needed to ensure the safety and well-being of young children.

Being involved with S&C will help players understand the following:

  • The almost infinite benefits of physical preparation
  • Optimal movement strategies and how to augment movement naturally
  • Good postural habits
  • A catalogue of different warm-ups, cool downs and corrective exercises
  • Recovery strategies (diet, hydration, stretching)

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Moreover the evolution of physical and technical performance parameters in the English Premier League between 2006-07 and 2012-13 have seen a 30% increase in high intensity running distance, 35% increase in sprint distance, 80% increase in number of sprints and 12% increase in passes. Therefore this highlights how much the game has evolved and the importance of physical preparation for athletes to withstand the high demands of the current game. Today as a sport scientist/strength and conditioning coach, the ability of a player to perform well physically day in day out and be able to meet academy’s physical expectations in testing, is held in high regard for a player to progress through the academy system.

Harry Bearman – Follow @HarryBearman15 on Twitter

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