Physical Preparation

Critical question 3: What role do preventative actions play in enhancing the wellbeing of the athlete?
Physical Preparation

Preparation is integral to the development of a healthy training regime and athletic success. Athletes are encouraged to physically ready themselves during training and before an event to reduce the likelihood of injury occurring. The body must be prepared to endure the physical demands and stress of the activity being undertaken.


Pre-screening involves the assessment of an athlete’s level of health before they become instigate a new training program. Not only does the athlete provide information about their medical history, but they also discuss their physical capabilities as well as their training expectations and objectives.

Pre-screening programs are conducted to:

– Identify any previous, ongoing or recurring health issues
– Aid in the design of a suitable training program for the individual
– Check the motivation of the athlete and identify the goals that they have
– Collect information about the age, weight, exercise history and previous experience of the athlete

These criteria are helpful and can help a trainer isolate areas of need in terms of health. This information will also guide and dictate the types of activities which are suitable and well suited to the athlete.

Pre-screening is particularly important if you:

– Are male and over 40
– Have asthma
– Suffer or have a family history of heart problems
– Are pregnant

Pre-screening prevents injuries, reduces the occurrence muscle soreness and promotes high levels of motivation by ensuring that programs are tailored to the unique needs of the individual athlete. Every athlete can benefit from understanding their limitations and utilising programs which have been designed with the FITT principle (frequency, intensity, type, time) in mind.

Skill and Technique

To prevent injury, it is important that athletes conduct as much training as possible to properly develop and improve the skills and techniques relevant to their sport. A common cause of injury is the repetition of incorrect or poorly executed movements. It is essential that coaches understand the needs of the athlete and possess knowledge of how the body works and the correct processes for technical skills.

For example, a rugby league player needs to learn to correctly and safely execute a tackle, ensuring that they place their head in the right position to avoid injury. Another example involves learning how to correctly swing a golf club. Poor body position can place excess stress on different areas of the back, causing pain.

Correctly developing skills and techniques can help the athlete to reduce the occurrence and severity of injuries.

Physical Fitness

To effectively participate in their chosen sport or activity athletes need to develop the fitness levels required to complete a whole game or session without fatigue. Working on overall physical health also reduces the likelihood of injury. Athletes must to ensure that their body has sufficient energy supplies and levels so that they can reach peak performance. This involves a balance of both health and skill related components of fitness training.

Athletes will need to focus on specific aspects trailing so that their physical fitness suits the sport or activity they want to participate in. For example, a cross country runner would embark on a cardiovascular endurance training program to increase their physical fitness level. Conversely, a gymnast would need to focus more on their flexibility, muscular strength and general endurance training to develop and improve their levels of physical fitness.

Health Related Components of Fitness

Health Related Components of FitnessSkill Related Components of Fitness
Cardio-respiratory enduranceSpeed
Muscular strengthAgility
Muscular EnduranceReaction time
Body CompositionCoordination


Warm up, Stretching and Cool Down

Warm ups, stretching and cool downs are important aspects of an athlete’s routine.

Warm ups are specific to the nature of the sport or activity that the athlete is participating in and are designed to gradually prepare an athlete for the physical and mental components of competition. It is uncommon to see an athlete not conduct any warm up before they play. These exercises improve the flexibility and strength of the muscles, while also increasing blood flow, ensuring that oxygen delivery is at maximum efficiency.

Warm up sessions vary in length, depending on sport or activity. Generally, a 20 – 25 minute warm up is considered adequate for a sport, which involves moderate to high levels of intensity over an extended period, such as soccer or rugby union. Athletes competing in sport which require more explosive movements, such as a sprinting, may require a longer warm up session.

A good warm up will include aerobic activity, sport specific movements and a variety of stretching exercises, including static (not moving) , PNF (partner stretches; a static stretch followed by isometric contraction with a partner) and dynamic (leg swings).

A cool down is often neglected by athletes but can help the body return to its pre-game state. The cool down is designed to ease the body into recovery mode, reduce the severity of aches and decrease the likelihood of blood pooling in the body’s extremities. It also aids in the removal of lactic acid and can reduce the likelihood of delayed muscle soreness from occurring (DOMS). Static stretching is the best type of exercise for a cool down.