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Make strength and conditioning priority

Most Kenyan football players struggle silently with nagging injuries for them to get playing time that is key for their continued employment.

We’ve seen cases where clueless coaches have forced players back onto a team even if they have not completely healed of their injury.

This only aggravates the injury and shortens a player’s career.

How can clubs deal with these frequent and recurring injuries?

To help prevent an injury from recurring requires an approach that addresses the cause rather than just treating symptoms.

A well-designed programme of strength and conditioning following treatment will enable a return to 100 percent fitness.

Improve performance

Strength and conditioning training aims to improve performance and even everyday life by helping stop injuries and increasing fitness.

The focus of strength and conditioning will vary according to the needs of the individual but can include: strength and power work, speed, balance, plyometrics, flexibility and endurance training.

In Kenya few, if any, top flight football clubs have a contracted strength and conditioning specialist amongst their staff.

Clubs such as AFC Leopards and Tusker try to cover this up by giving short term contracts to specialists to help in raising their squads fitness. 

These specialists are mainly drawn from rugby circles.  Rugby is only sport in Kenya that has fully embraced the strength and conditioning concept.

What are the benefits of strength and conditioning programme?

The most important one is prevention of injury prevention. An athlete who follows a well-designed programme will prevent irregular muscle movements as well as strengthen tendons and ligaments. This will definitely result in fewer injuries.

Flexibility is also factored into the programme.

Nutritional advice will guide the athlete on right types of foods that help in eliminating ailments and lifestyle diseases.

The second benefit is that these strength and conditioning programmes help in improving overall team and individual performance.

These programmes don’t necessarily have to be lifted from your local body building magazines, or from a well-toned friends or worse still from that athlete who swears by the name of Masti (Mass Gaining Steroids.)

A good programme addresses the individual, his or her muscle imbalances, and the sport the individual plays as well as many other factors.

A good strength and conditioning programme will give the coach a squad of fitter and stronger athletes. Almost all sports involve application of some kind of force.

Squats and lunges will make athletes faster and stronger. Just because you can outsprint or out jump your opponent doesn’t mean that you are the best. Athletes should strive to develop their all-round core strength and endurance.

A well-conditioned athlete will naturally be faster and lighter. Most “elite” Kenyan coaches still believe that running up your players till they throw up is the way to achieve fitness. Wrong tactics.

A good programme will address the issues of agility and speed to enable top athletes to have an extra edge over their opponents.

And what is an athlete without power? A good athlete should be able to out jump and out sprint his markers. A good example is Real Madrid’s Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo.