Market Insight: Fail to prepare, prepare to fail - why hydration is key to pre-season training
Although these two things may seem unrelated, there’s a clear link between the unseen work players put into pre-season and the end-game, many months later, when trophies are being fought for and finals contested.
“Fail to prepare and you prepare to fail” is a quote from one of America’s 18th century founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, but it is a quote quite rightly appropriated by sports gurus the world over.
In football, sports science now reigns supreme, and it is widely accepted that players’ pre-season preparations - physically and mentally, and in diet and hydration - can be crucial to having a successful season.
Gone are the days when pre-season training consisted of endless jogging around the pitch perimeter, star jumps, and press-ups.
Now, fitness preparations are calculation with forensic intensity, endlessly monitored and nothing left to chance in a bid to ensure elite footballers can reach peak performance levels at the start of the season.
Key to this is correct hydration, with studies showing that a five percent drop in hydration can lead to a 30 percent drop in capacity for work and successful physical recovery from training sessions is acknowledged as important as the training sessions themselves.
Hydration is even more relevant now with so many clubs favouring warm weather training, with the greater, and quicker, associated levels of water loss.
One thing which is rarely considered by the fans but does not go unnoticed by elite football clubs is that with international travel now the norm for many pre-season friendlies, hydration needs to be addressed as footballers fly across the globe crossing multiple time zones
Proper hydration not only supports optimum performance levels, it also counters the risk of jet lag and ensures the body is at peak efficiency be it working or resting.
This is the sphere where Totum Sport offers unmatchable benefits to professional athletes - something gold medallists in disciplines as diverse as swimming and sprinting, as well as football can testify.
That’s because perfect hydration is not just about intake of water but finding a sports supplement which helps the body retain and process that water at the maximum possible efficiency.
These things are important because pre-season is a time where footballers are going up the gears in terms of exertion and fitness levels and care has to be taken to ensure it is done safely as well as swiftly.
Pre-season injuries are impossible to eradicate but with proper care and attention by sports scientists and nutritionists, with hydration playing a supporting role, the risk of them can be greatly reduced.
We’re helped in this by promoting a change of culture as much as by increased scientific knowledge.
There was a time when ‘refuelling’ in the closed season meant a very different thing to many footballers and it was not unheard of to have professional players returning many pounds overweight after a summer of ‘letting their hair down’.
In those days ‘footballers’ and ‘athletes’ were regarded as different types of sports people - nowadays all professional footballers are athletes, subject to continual monitoring and rigorous discipline.
Every top-level player heading away for their summer break does so with a diet and training sheet packed in their suitcase. Food and drink are charted; light training sessions detailed.
And fines are heavy if players come back heavier.
This is something the elite professional footballer happily signs up for because they know this is what is required if they are to maximise their chances of contesting cup finals and league titles.
Transitioning from ‘holiday state’ to ‘match fit’ is no longer the body shock it once was but with fitness standards across the board higher, it remains a very challenging time and one that coaching staff has to curate on an individual basis.
Players coming back from World Cup duty, for example, will be on a completely different programme to those that did not go to Russia.
Typically, peak fitness is assumed for those competing in the tournament so their pathway is to rejoin squad training, They are usually given extra time off for their bodies to rest and for niggles and strains to recover.
But whatever the individual programme, the goal is always the same for the players - to be as match-fit and match-sharp as they can be for the start of the season.
Every season, once the season is a few weeks underway, you will hear managers talking - after a poor performance or a defeat - about how it takes players weeks to get fully match fit and into their rhythm.
A lot of sports scientists could be forgiven if they take this personally because the job of pre-season is to ensure that when the season starts, the players themselves are ready.
And it will be interesting to see how long the old manager’s excuse is deemed an acceptable one in coming years.
Surely in the modern era, with so much sports science, print readouts, data collection, exact calibrations, and calculations, it is harder to accept a few weeks of sluggishness before players are ready to give their best?
That’s a question that those in football will no doubt continue to discuss.
But at least in the field of hydration, there’s no excuse for the professional footballer not to be operating at maximum levels every single day.
We can’t claim Totum Sport will make footballers world-beaters, like Les Bleus in Russia 2018. The product won’t make someone a more talented player but it will give world-beaters world-class hydration - as it will to every professional footballer returning to pre-season this month.
And if sports scientists and nutritionists can take care of that all-important basic building block, they are then so much freer to concentrate on the training sessions, sports psychology etc in a sport where, at its highest level, the difference between success and failure is increasingly measured in fractions.
For more information on Totum Sport, go to https://totumsport.co.uk/
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