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In football as in watchmaking, talent and elegance mean nothing without rigour and precision.

Lionel Messi

The sports medicine clinician should understand the different elements of training and their possible relationship to injury. This facilitates the practitioner’s obtaining a full training history from an injured athlete, learning about training strategy from a coach or fitness practitioner and enhances a clinician’s understanding of the phases of rehabilitation outlined in Chapter 18. This chapter reviews the principles of training and outlines some more common training programming and assessment practices. The reader is directed to other sources for more detailed outlines of the various types of training.


‘Training’ is the pursuit of activity that will ultimately lead to an improved performance in a given sport. A number of general principles of training apply to all sports:

  • periodisation

  • overload

  • specificity

  • individuality.


Periodisation is an important component of all training programs, in both the long and short term. Training can be divided into three distinct phases: conditioning (preparation), pre-competition (transitional) and competition.

Generally, the conditioning phase emphasises developing aerobic and anaerobic fitness, strength and power. Often during this period, the athlete is training under fatigue and if required to compete would probably perform poorly. During the pre-competition phase of training, the emphasis switches from pure conditioning to more technical work. During the competition phase, the emphasis is on competitive performance while maintaining basic conditioning (Table 10.1).

Table 10.1

Different types of training are performed during the three phases of the yearly cycle

In many sports (e.g. football, basketball, hockey), a 4–6-month competition season is usual. In some instances, an athlete is required to undertake two periods of competition in the one year. A suggested program for athletes in these two situations is outlined in Figure 10.1. In other instances, the competition period may last as long as 8–10 months and conditioning work can extend into the competitive season. However, in all of these scenarios the same principles of training periodisation apply.

Figure 10.1

Periodisation of training showing a single cycle annual program (above) and a dual cycle annual program (below)

To ensure complete recovery from the physical and mental stress of competition, adequate time should be allowed between the end of one season or competition phase and the start of the next season or phase. This ...

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