Footy players, listen up ahead of the Grassroots season. Injuries are far too common, so some sound advice from an experienced head and an insight into how the pro's recover after the battle. Versatile Cronulla Sharks man, Luke Lewis, talks Inside Sport through training and warm up ahead of the new NRL season.
The day after
"We'll always have a recovery session the day after a game. For example, if we play on a Saturday, on Sunday we'll have a medical check and a session at the pool, just some general movement stuff, some swimming. Out of the water we'll do a stretch and go through some basic movements too.
We're back to training on the Monday at 8.00am. The day starts with a video session in the morning and then into a prehab-type session, where data like our body weight is collected. Our hamstrings are tested - groin, quads, lower back - just to see how our body has reacted to the game and the recovery. This rolls into a field session. We'll be on the field by 9.15am until about 10.45am. In the middle of the day we'll have a team lunch together at the club. Then it's onto another video session; a preview of the next game we'll be playing, before a weights session in the afternoon. Normally we'll have a leg weights session Monday, allowing them to recover early. Our full-body, power and upper-body weights sessions are spread out across the rest of the week.";
"Back when I started playing first grade in 2001, field sessions at training were a lot more defence-orientated. You'd prepare for three men in a tackle every now and then, but normally it would be two in a tackle. Now, there are three tacklers in almost every ruck. Back in the early 2000s, the speed of the ruck and off the defensive line, I think, was nowhere near as fast as it is today. As well, in some ways, the physicality back then was a lot more intense and brutal than it is now. For example, the ref was a lot more lenient on things like shoulder charges and that sort of off-the-ball stuff.";
Getting' warmed up
"We'll start our field session by walking through some hurdles, which gets our hips moving, warms up our lower back and gets all our fast-twitch fibres activated. Then we'll go through some movements with rubber bands, which get all the muscles through the glutes going, lessening the risk of suffering hammie or lower back problems. Next is a team stretch, which fires the body up that little bit more so that when we're at full speed, we're preventing muscle tears. Following that we'll slowly work on getting our movement patterns right with exercises like high knees. We'll work on our running technique, honing our footwork and stepping, changes in direction. What happens here, too, is that all the boys start talking, communicating, which prepares us for the teamwork aspect of training.";