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Players will need a pre-season after lockdown

Whilst sports fans across the world are desperate for a return to action again, even when leagues are matches are ready to resume again, they may have to wait a little longer before they can expect competitions to start again.

That is because it will take players in virtually every week a minimum of two or three weeks before they can get back to full match fitness again. Whilst many football, cricket, hockey and tennis players, as well as athletes from a host of other sports have used the shutdown to work out at home, there is no substitute for outdoor training, or in specialist facilities. Running on a treadmill is not the same as running on the ground, or on a track.

Fast bowlers in cricket, for example, are particularly prone to injury of rushed back too soon after a prolonged lay-off. This is because it is a cardiovascular activity which involves jumping and landing in the delivery stride, all of which puts a strain on the body. To try and play straight away without having built-up the necessary strength and conditioning first is the fastest way to a prolonged spell in the treatment room.

Similarly football is a contact sport, and there is no way to practice going into a tackle or competing for a header against an opponent at home. It is a question of timing, coordination and technique, and these skills need to be honed on the training pitch.

In addition, many athletes may not have all the equipment that they need to practice properly at home. Whilst Premier League clubs were able to arrange for exercise machines and training bikes to be delivered to their players, not all teams or sports bodies have such deep pockets as to be able to afford this. And equally, not all athletes have space in their homes to be able to accommodate such equipment.

That is not to say there is nothing that can be achieve at home. It is possible for players to work on strength and conditioning, balance, hand-eye coordination, and core stability and flexibility. They can also practice exercises like yoga to help keep bodies supple, and minds relaxed.

However, most home work-outs must be considered top-ups to the real thing. That means that, if supporters want to see players and athletes back at their best, they may have to be patient for a while longer, even when the authorities rule that it is safe to start playing again.

Shantanu Gupta predominantly writes for the sister sites of Inplay Cricket India, Inplay Sports India and Indian Cricket World. Having grown up around the intense rivalries of cricket Shantanu took to a journalistic career in following the sport whilst also remaining mindful of other key sports of interest to Indian sports fans. You’ll see him not only writing about cricket but also covering football, tennis and more.

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