Conditioning drills

Can involve specific movements and can develop skills as well as fitness simultaneously, can involve demands of the activity, can also simulate the pressure of a competitive situation, can be fun and motivational.

Example: Rugby

To develop rucking/contact skills, a player may have to hit a rucking shield, run backwards 5m and lie face down, get up and hit the rucking shield, run backwards 5m and lie down, they repeat this for a predetermined time limit or number. This simulates making a contact, having to get up and move to the next phase, making another contact and repeating. The focus is on developing a players contact skills but also their muscular endurance.

Example: Dance

Perform 4 bars worth of movements, then go back to the start and perform it again, then add in a 5 bar worth of movements, repeat this 2 or 3 times. A dancer repeatedly performing phrases of their dance will be improving cardiorespiratory endurance as well as skills/moves involved in their dance.

Conditioning drills can be increased by overloading the training time/intensity.
- A badminton rally where when the shuttle hits the ground another is put straight in to play so as the rest time is shortened.
- A dancer repeats longer and longer phrases of the dance
- A smaller area is used in football to try and keep possession of the football which increases the intensity.
- The rugby player could use an interval approach to the conditioning drill by working for 1min, rest for 30 secs and repeats 3 sets. Next time they increase the work time or set number or decrease the rest.

Fartlek Training
The term fartlek is Swedish for - ‘speed play.’ Fartlek training involves continuously working for a period of time. Within this time the intensity at which you work varies.
Usually it involves continuously running with short sprint bursts followed by a slower recovery and then more continuous paced running. However any exercise which allows you to work at differing intensities can be used i.e. cycling, swimming.
It improves aerobic and anaerobic fitness. This training should replicate the pace of running required in a particular activity. There could also be a change in terrain to increase/decrease intensity (flat/incline/decline).

Why would you use this type of training?
• Develops aerobic and anaerobic endurance
• Can be made activity specific i.e. actions & movement patterns of hockey/football
• Game like as it includes bursts of speed and continuous running
• Exercises can be adapted to suit level of fitness
• Easy to add progressive overload
Example of Fartlek training
Astrand Fartlek
Suitable for 800m.
• 10 minutes warm up
• Repeat 3 times - Maximum effort for 75 seconds, 150 seconds jog/run, maximum effort for 60 seconds, 120 seconds jog run
• 10 minute cool down
Gerschler Fartlek
Suitable for getting fit quickly when combined with steady running.
• 10 minutes warm up
• Repeat 3 times - Stride hard for 30 seconds, jog 90 seconds. Repeat with 15 second decreases in recovery jog e.g. 30-90, 30-75, 30-60, 30-45, 30-30, 30-15 and 30-15-30
• 10 minute cool down
Whistle Fartlek
The coach, using a whistle, controls the session over a 800 metre circumference grass area.
• 10 minutes warm up
• When the whistle is blown the athletes run hard until the whistle is blown again. Pyramid session of 4 minutes, 3 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minute, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 4 minutes with a 60 second jog run recovery between each run
• 10 minute cool down
Fartlek for games players
A fartlek session for games players should include sprinting, running, jogging and walking with variations in direction of movement to fit in with the demands of their sport. This should include controlling an object (e.g. football) or carry any implement (e.g. hockey stick, rugby ball) used in the sport.
More examples of Fartlek can be found at
Interval training
This involves alternating between periods of hard exercise and rest. For example working for a set time/distance and then resting for a set time/distance. Interval training can be made harder by increasing the intensity or period of work, or by decreasing the rest period. It can improve speed, muscular endurance or power with a large work to ratio (1:4), or it can improve CRE with a shorter work to rest ratio (1:1) but over a longer period of time.
Example of Interval Training
An example of an interval training session is shown in the table below:

Repetitions Distance Time Recovery
4 40m 8 secs 32 secs
5 30m 6 secs 24 secs
6 20m 4 secs 16 secs

N.B. In order for continued improvements to be made to fitness levels it is vital that the principles of training are applied to methods of training. The importance of this cannot be underestimated, if principles of training are not considered it is unlikely that any worthwhile improvements will be made.

Continuous Training
Continuous training can take place in various forms such as running, rowing, cycling or swimming. The training principle of specificity should be considered when deciding on which form of training you will use. The purpose of continuous training is to maintain a steady pace throughout the duration of training. Your heart rate must be in the correct training zone during training in order to make improvements to fitness. Training must also be progressively overloaded through intensity (how hard you train), frequency (how often you train) or duration (how long you train for) regularly to ensure your fitness is going to improve.
Advantages of continuous training include:
• it improves your cardio respiratory endurance;
• it burns body fat when it is carried out at the correct intensity and for the correct duration;
• there is no real need for expensive specialist equipment;
• it improves aerobic fitness;
• most exercises are simple to replicate and perform.

Disadvantages of continuous training include:
• there can be high levels of boredom during it;
• it does not improve anaerobic fitness;
• it does very little to improve your ability to exert short bursts of speeds which is needed in many team sports.

Circuit Training is performing a series of exercises or activities in a special order, working on different muscle groups. Circuit training is typically used to improve muscular endurance, but could be used to improve strength, power or cardio respiratory endurance.
A circuit could be made up with some of the following exercises:
Star jumps, Step ups, Press ups, Squat thrusts, Sit ups etc.
The circuit for example could be performed for 30 seconds at 100% effort with a 30 second rest.

Plyometric Training
Plyometric training also known as jump training -- is a training approach designed to increase muscular power and explosiveness. It is based around having muscles exert maximum force in as short a time as possible, with the goal of increasing both speed and power. Examples of plyometric exercises:
• Box jumps
• Plyo lunges
• Hurdle bounds

These can be made more difficult by increasing height/speed.
Advantages of plyometric training:
1. It is a very effective way to improve your explosive strength.
2. The power stored in the muscles after extended plyometric training greatly increases the speed and power of your legs, abdominal region, glutes and other muscle groups.
Disadvantage of plyometric training:
The main disadvantage is the high risk of injury. The repetitive jumping and bounding can cause stress on the joints, particularly knees and ankles.
Weight Training
Weight training is using weights as a form of resistance training.
Complete 3 sets of 15 repetitions, lifting 70% of your maximum lift.
A weight training programme could be made up as follows:
Shoulder press, lateral pull, leg extension, leg curl etc.

Flexibility Training.
There are several different types of stretching the can be included in a flexibility programme.
• Ballistic stretching
• Dynamic stretching
• Static stretching
• Active stretching
• Passive (relaxed) stretching
• PNF stretching
You can get more information on all these types of stretches from this YouTube video channel
Two examples of stretching approaches have been provided on the following pages; a static and a dynamic stretching session that can be used as part of a programme.
Key Points for An Effective Stretching Programme
1. To increase flexibility and range of motion, perform stretching exercises when the body is warm. This can be at the end of a training session or following 10 minutes of light aerobic exercise.
2. Complete a range of stretching exercises for different muscle groups. Pay particular attention to the muscle groups that are involved most in your sport.
3. Hold each stretch for 10-20 seconds. Initial tightness should gradually diminish as you hold the stretch.
4. Repeat each of the stretching exercises 2-3 times in succession.
5. Perform stretching exercises at least 3 times a week and ideally 5 times per week.
6. Ease slowly in and out of the stretch. Do not bounce! Breathe out as you stretch and continue to breathe as you hold it.
7. If you feel any pain, release the stretch immediately.

Link to video of dynamic stretching exercises
Watch this video for an example of a PNF stretching routine that has been designed for football players
Further resources for developing flexibility
Free online yoga video’s of stretching routines
Stretchit iPad app (also available as pdf download)