Playing a sport is a great way to be active, be part of a team, and feel some competitiveness. Keeping that competitive edge is important for some people. It’s important to do something you enjoy and look forward to. Sports can help you get in better shape by increasing your aerobic endurance to expressing power from sprinting and jumping. It keeps challenging the brain from strategy, to eye hand coordination, and quick decision making skills.
But what happens when you only play that one sport? If you do one activity for too long, imbalances usually develop. An example could be playing tennis for years and having imbalanced shoulder muscles from side to side. Another could be playing soccer for years without paying attention to the upper body, core muscles, and hips (this was me). Golfers have experienced years of back pain from the high speed twisting of the torso during a swing.
The entire body needs to be trained as one single unit. Meaning all parts of the body should be trained to gradually improve towards the desired adaptation. As you play a sport your body adapts to the movement patterns of the sport. This continues for years until you begin to realize something is off. Here’s the fix, general physical preparedness (GPP).
General Physical Preparedness
A fitness program aimed at GPP fills in the gaps of those imbalances you’ve developed. The goal is to train your body to be ready for anything. Increasing your general fitness allows the body to express power as one single unit. You learn to use your hips to drive harder, how to properly strengthen the shoulder joint, and how to stabilize the spine to control fast movements. The goal is to get the body prepared for anything. Increasing resilience increases your ability to keep going.
Fitness can be another outlet to push yourself. You can set new goals inside the gym that can turn into new goals in the sport. It’s an opportunity to learn more about the body and how it works. There are valuable lessons to learn from pushing yourself inside the gym. Lessons that will quickly translate to the sport.
How to Implement
Sports are an amazing way to stay active and have fun. If you’re looking for longevity in your sport then you need a full body fitness program aimed at general physical preparedness. The best place to implement this is in the off-season where you have time to strengthen those weak points and increase your body’s capacity to exert power. If you play your sport once or twice a week throughout the year then you should be fine training for GPP as much as you can handle but will generally be 3-5 times a week depending on your sport.
Find a fitness program that works for you. Get in front of coaches that understand your goals and your sport so they can help guide you in the right direction.
If you are someone who saw your performance increase in your sport after starting a fitness program please share it with us in the comments.