Blood, sweat and tears are known to be a part of many athletes’ sports seasons. It can be tough to keep up with the competition without preseason conditioning. Preseason conditioning is high-intensity training, which reactivates athletes’ muscles after a break. The aim of preseason conditioning is to slowly build up an athlete’s fitness level to prepare him or her for the upcoming sports season.
“Getting the players in shape before the season starts. Many of them take the fall or winter off. Many times, they end up playing another sport. You know, they aren’t in shape to come into the season ready to play, ready to compete. We use this time to build muscle memory, to strengthen themselves, to get ready… We establish what our expectations for them are for the upcoming season,” explained NFA girls softball head coach, Bryan Burdick.
Burdick’s team had 16 wins and 4 losses overall last year, and they were undefeated in their division.
“The season can be long, so the more effort you can put in before the season even begins and, building overall strength and fitness, it paves dividends down the road. It makes it so during the long stretches of the spring, as we get closer to the tournament, that they are ready to compete late in the season at a high level,” Burdick added.
Upper Sophia DiCocco finds conditioning helpful.
“Preseason training is essential for an athlete’s success, so when it comes time for games, you’re there for your team and you’re supporting your team; and you’re being your best in that moment; and you’re helping out your team to win,”explained DiCocco.
DiCocco believes that it is more beneficial to train with other people than to train alone.
“The most challenging aspects of training are probably pushing yourself as far as your body can go. It really helps having girls here to compete with. But when you’re by yourself in the summer working out by yourself, it’s hard to push yourself to your max, because there’s no one there to push you,” said DiCocco.
Preseason conditioning not only improves an athlete’s physical strength, but also the ability to play against high ranking teams.
“You want to be able to compete at a high level, and if you’re not conditioned, if you haven’t trained appropriately or effectively, you can’t expect to compete with the other good teams in the area or the state. So, you want the whole athlete in shape, not just able to do the one or two steals specific to the sport. You want that well-rounded conditioned athlete,” Burdick elaborated.
Improvements from conditioning appear throughout the season.
“The personal improvements really start to show during the season, when you’re facing other teams and it’s like the seventh inning and they’re all tired, but you’re still ready to go, and you’re as good as you were in the beginning of the game,” stated DiCocco.
Working hard can produce great results.
“My goal for this year’s training is to, for when it comes time for the season, just outworking the other competitors and making it far into the postseason,” said DiCocco.
“Overall, the mental toughness, that physical strength and that ability to stay fresh, to stay strong late in the game. We have some intense workout sessions where it’s easy to let their heads sag, and by working them hard now, when they get tired late in the game, they know what it feels like so they aren’t feeling that pressure late in the game,” explained Burdick.
This year’s spring sports season begins on March 16.