We’ve discussed that strength training and conditioning outside of sports benefit the athlete, but what exactly does that look like? When we say conditioning for the athlete, what does that look like in practice?
Conditioning, or endurance training, is working to increase the body's work capacity, so it can keep going for longer. This may look like going for long runs, but it should be much more than that.
For most athletes, being able to jog for 20 minutes straight isn’t super applicable (except for cross-country/distance track athletes). Even soccer players must be able to work a burst of speed into their constant movement, and there will be periods of little movement.
We must prepare athletes to move fast for extended periods, rest briefly, and do it again. This involves things like interval training, where athletes perform tasks for 10-30 seconds, take a rest period, and do it again.
Along with that, training the muscles to resist fatigue through higher-rep strength training movements can have benefits. An athlete with shoulders or hamstrings that can resist fatigue may hold up better at the end of a long game/match compared to an athlete that didn’t train in that way, and that may prove crucial to getting it done when it counts.
The athlete's conditioning should be more than running them into the ground. We must train the body to do what we need it to be able to do in sport – work hard, take a quick break, and do it again – for the whole game/match.