Just as the athletes in your upcoming games are preparing for their season, you should be physically preparing for your first game. Being thoroughly conditioned for your season is professionally as important as it is to show up to your games on time and in the proper uniform. We would like to give you some guidance for physical preparation for your season, including a general fitness plan, ways to stay healthy and motivational ideas.
“Don’t ref to get in shape, get in shape to ref”
Up Your Game: Pre-season Fitness Plan
Plan to start your fitness routine at least 6 weeks prior to your season starting. If you are officiating other sports in the winter or maintain a level of fitness throughout the off season, you can edit the plan we offer by starting at weeks 3 and 4 and continue from there. If you have enjoyed some needed time off and have rested your body for a few months or just plain prefer a less active lifestyle most of the time, you will want to set your plan in place, have measurable goals along the way and find a buddy to work with and keep you (each other) accountable and on track.
“Fitness is not like an exam, you cannot cram it in days before your season starts”
Suggested 6-week Preseason Plan
This plan includes cardiovascular exercise, speed and interval training, weight training and flexibility work. We will offer suggestions for types of activities in each of those areas, but feel free to include your own as well.
To officiate our sport, you need to have a solid cardiovascular base capacity as we are constantly jogging, running, sprinting and moving for at least 60-90 minutes. Incorporating speed work will prepare your body for changing speeds as you move and for that first hard sprint in the early part of your season (which for many of us is in cold weather); your muscles will be prepared for this change.
Adding strength training to your preseason preparation will prepare your body by improving the health and efficiency of its composition and increase your muscle force and movement speed (also referred to as your body’s power). In addition to keeping you healthy, you will move more efficiently, making those sudden changes in direction easier, and tire less quickly.
Weeks 1 and 2
These weeks should focus on building your base cardio and increasing your overall strength. As you get started, be sure to incorporate warm-ups, stretching and cool down time to your activities. This is the time your habits will develop, so make them good ones.
- 3x/week: Base Cardio work: running 2-3 miles or 30-40 minutes of stationary bike, elliptical or treadmill jogging. If you have to work up to that, try to run for 2-3 mins, then walk 1 minute, and back to running 2-3 mins.
- 2x/week: Strength Conditioning: body weight exercises such as squats (25-50), lunges(25-50) and burpees(10-20) for your lower body; crunches(50-75), planks(work up to 3 sets of 1 minute each) and leg lifts(25-50) for your core; and push-ups (work up to 3 sets of 10-12) for your upper body are all simple ways to get started. Activities such as yoga or pilates are other options that are great alternatives.
Weeks 3 and 4
- 4x/week: Cardio workout (1-2x Speed work). Continue your cardio work on running, biking, or elliptical but try to increase your time to 40-50 minutes. Add speed/interval training 1 or 2 times a week. This activity simulates the type of running our sport demands, so adding this to your training will help your muscles prepare for games. Speed/Interval training incorporates adding and changing speeds while running. If you train on a treadmill, run at your base speed for a minute and change to a faster (sprint) speed for 30-45 second intervals, you can work towards 8-10 intervals. When running on a track, consider running/sprinting the straightaways and walking the curves, again aim for 8-10 sprints.
- 2-3x/week: Strength Conditioning Continue to include body weight exercises 2-3 days a week. Increase your core work into each day, most injuries can be avoided if your core is strong. Combining interval training and strength training in one day, can also add to making your work outs efficient.
Weeks 5 and 6 (and beyond)
- 5x/week: Cardio workout (at least 2-3x speed/interval work). At this point your cardio workouts should be comfortable and you should feel like you are increasing your pace and/or distance. Keep them no more than an hour. Again, interval and speed work should be incorporated 2-3 days a week.
- 2-3x/week: Strength Conditioning: You should feel yourself getting stronger and able to challenge yourself more in the area of strength. Continue to keep core work a part of all strength workouts.
“When you are fit you are able to be in position to make the right calls”
Warm-ups, Cool downs and Stretching
Your workout should include a time where you warm up your body, cool down your body and stretch. Commit yourself to this. A total workout should include the following:
- 10 minute warm-up: Dynamic warm-ups are a great way to get moving and stretching in at the same time
- Post work out static stretches
You can find many body weight and core exercises both online and in apps to have on your phone so you can easily make this part of your work out.
“Fitness is not about being better than someone else, fitness is about being better than the person you were yesterday.”
Liz Brush is the women’s officials education manager for US Lacrosse.