Will talks about the importance of general physical preparedness and talks about how to implement it to become a better athlete.
General physical preparedness or GPP is a term that is often misunderstood. It is not a particular exercise in itself. It is a method of training physical attributes that provide a strong foundation for further activity, such as a chosen sport. How you perform GPP is also relative to what sport you already participate in. GPP means having more than one aspect to your training.
Take an athlete that plays football (or soccer as otherwise known). Let’s say he plays twice per week. He does a warm-up before the games. He plays twice a week for 90 minute’s each game. He does no extra physical activity. Now, let’s propose a different scenario. Let’s take the same athlete. He plays football twice a week, also for 90 minute’s each game, with a warm-up before the games. Additionally he also does extra strength training sessions for his upper body and leg muscles during the week. He performs high intensity interval training once a week. He does light stretching the days after he plays. He also does plyometrics once a week.
Both scenarios involve the person playing his chosen sport to the same degree. The difference is in the second scenario the athlete engages in more physical preparation. How does the performance compare in each case? Think of the advantage that the extra workouts provide. Assuming the training is intelligently applied then the latter scenario will produce a superior athlete compared to the first scenario. His muscles and joints will become more resistant to injury through weight training. He reduces or eliminates muscular imbalances that naturally occur during intensive sports. The gains in strength will increase the force production of his upper and lower body muscles making him stronger in tackling and shielding. His shooting ability, jumping ability and sprint speed will be superior. The high intensity intervals will push up his ability to tolerate repeated high intensity sprints, fast changes of pace and direction with a reduced loss in work capacity. Flexibility training makes him more agile and provides better joint mobility, which will assist in reducing potential injury. The flexibility training also provides a recovery element by causing fresh blood to be flushed through the muscles. This will assist in waste products being cleared away faster which will also assist in greater injury prevention. The plyomentrics increase the explosiveness and quickness in his movements. It starts to become obvious that in the latter scenario the athlete is better prepared physically to perform for his sport. This is why GPP is important. It provides your body with the needed extra training which it would not receive sufficiently if you only played your particular sport.
How Do I Implement GPP?
As mentioned before, GPP is not a particular exercise in itself. For GPP to be effective it is necessary to address your individual needs. This will vary depending on your sport, experience and physique. It helps to have knowledge of the physical requirements particular to your sport. Observe how your sport is played. What is the length and intensity of action? What muscle groups are used? What are the most common injuries? What types of exercise will strengthen this area? With the right knowledge it is possible to design and implement a program that progressively strengthens aspects of the physical demands of your sport that are not increased enough by merely playing your sport. In the first example above, the athlete was only playing his sport. This of course would likely improve his sport specific skills and conditioning to a degree. After that, improvements would be limited. It would not directly address areas that had become imbalances. He may be a very good player. But he could be an even better player with the right preparation. The athlete or sports person who seeks to improve basic attributes such as strength, agility and explosiveness to name a few will have an increased performance over one who does not.
The Results Will Speak For Themselves
GPP is an often overlooked but essential component to an athlete or sportsman’s arsenal. If implemented properly it will drastically improve performance. Many a promising athlete or sports person’s career has been cut short because of a lack of basic physical preparation. It could keep you sprinting when the opposition is out of gas. It could save you from an injury. It could make you faster. It could make you stronger. Ultimately, it will make you better prepared.