Make fitness training more purposeful

Fitness trainer Kaushik Balial explains about functional training in sports and why it is important for players

Functional training is necessary for football players
Kaushik Balial

Functional training essentially means purposeful training and, in sports, focus is on training that enhances an athlete’s performance and  reduces injury. Sports strength and conditioning training does not involve a lot of Olympic lifting or powerlifting movements, but needs to be designed to develop stability, single leg strength and coordination between upper and  lower body.

An example could be a football player who needs to improve single leg strength and the stabilizer  muscles. However, before he can do that, he needs to develop mobility. To develop  lower body strength, if the player does leg extension or leg curling he will not develop any functional strength to improve his game.

But before designing an effective functional training programme, the coach must analyse the demands of the sport. Think about the sport, visualize it. Most sports are speed and power oriented. Although most people think that tennis and football are endurance sports, they are speed and power sports in reality.

Prior to beginning any strength & conditioning programme, a player must do a functional movement screening. This assessment  tells the player in which areas he needs to focus and helps to reduce chances of injury. Doing strength training with faulty movements,  only  adds strength to dysfunction, that is very dangerous.  If we test the aerobic capacity of a power and speed athlete on a cycle ergometer, then the athlete will perform poorly and will be called unfit. However, the reality is different. An athlete does not train on a cycle. So, if we need to test quality and improve the game, its necessary to do a functional movement screening.

Faulty strength training can have disastrous results. If the exercise is not in sync with the  type of sport, then the athlete will only add strength to dysfunction. For example, on a lunge test, if an athlete scores 1, his muscular strength and fitness is said to be very poor. In such a case, split stance exercises are prohibited and he can develop Jumpers knee, ACL injury or IT band tendonitis during exercise.