The worst excuse to miss training

There are plenty of poor reasons to miss training – anyone who has played footy has come across some shockers …. And indeed it is social media memes encouraging people to post the worst ones they have heard that was the initial inspiration for this discussion.


Because all jokes aside, there is one excuse that absolutely does my head in, and is an absolutely terrible excuse on so many levels, and for so many different reasons. And that excuse of course is


“I’m injured so I won’t be at training for a few weeks.”


“I’ve picked up ____________________ and so I need 4 weeks off, I will be back then.”


Or similar bullshit along those lines.


The reason that this is such a poor excuse as it implies that there is only one ‘training’, in the sense that all training is the same stimulus on the body and that if you aren’t right to do 100% of the work, there is no middle ground, and you will just do 0.


Even worse, it is as if after a few weeks of time have elapsed, it will be a case of back out to training and straight back into things including games.


I must quickly add here that I am talking specifically about doing absolutely nothing, as a result of an injury – be that a hamstring strain, a shoulder issue, knee, whatever. Your club may not have a set up to accommodate working with injured players, or may not be resourced enough to run a separate group set up for injured players, to the point where if you are unable to train in the main group, there is minimal to be gained from attending training nights - beyond remaining around the team. However I am more aiming this discussion at the mentality that just because you strained ________________ you can’t perform any running-based loading of any sort, nor any cross-training methods (off legs), nor any resistance-training that you may normally perform (in your own time as much as anything, because once again, not all clubs provide much in this area – although they should). 


So lets elaborate a little more.


Whatever your injury is, there is always work that can be done elsewhere.

That mentality that unless I can absolutely go flat-chat and do everything all the time, and leave every session feeling 100% smoked is misguided. No one trains that way all the time. And if you are training appropriately, there is variation in what you are doing. What better way to be forced into a few weeks of variation on you current program than a niggle in your hamstring, or an inflamed biceps tendon.


Besides, how often do you train and not do a certain exercise anyway? Plenty. Do you deadlift every session? Or lunge every session? Or bench every session (ok the answer on this one may be yes) but you get the point.


Yes if you knicked a hamstring, you wouldn’t be doing heavy RDL’s the following Tuesday, nor would you be doing high-speed sprinting. So that no heavy hamstring loading, no high speed sprinting…..that only leaves……EVERYTHING ELSE;


-Anything upper body

-Light on-feet work

-Running mechanics

-Spin bike (at varying intensities)

-Any Upper body + core work 

-Hamstring specific isometrics

-Glute work

-Plenty of lower body options that don’t directly load the hamstring group

The hamstring was the first example that came to mind, being footy, but this could just as easily have been a groin, or ankle or strained bicep tendon (felt as a shoulder). The same principles apply. You have a minor tweak of some sort, with a huge number of other options to work on, you haven’t been consigned to a wheelchair (I hope).


So you can work;

-Around the area

-Opposite side of the body

-Other areas of the body

-Directly on that area (with specific and appropriate interventions)


Because to reiterate, it wont just ‘repair’ itself, and it certainly wont return to performance from resting and doing sweet FA. Plus there is plenty of research as well as anecdotal evidence showing that working other areas helps with recovery of the injured site, even if seemingly unrelated work – due to blood flow and nervous system patterning, as well as the suspected positive overflow from the psychological benefits of still training very solidly.



Not doing anything at all, just because you are ‘injured’ is time wasted

When you are spending 4 weeks doing nothing, the world keeps spinning and the competition keeps training, it doesn’t just pause and then go easy on you when you return because you have ‘had a break the last 5 weeks with an injury.’ This much would seem obvious – but I am highlighting the fact that doing absolutely nothing is a massive waste of that 5 weeks. If that 5 weeks has been spent doing as much as you can around the areas that aren’t impacted by the injury, this 5 weeks may not have been that big a waste of time at all (apart from missed matches of course).


Time on the sidelines allows physical qualities to be targeted that can’t be while games are played and team training occurs. When you are in season, naturally team training and games take priority, meaning that you really only get 1 lifting-based session to push the envelope a little. With a 4 week stint (for example) on the sidelines, you effectively have a clean slate across the whole week to use however you see fit, and based on your injured site as well as your individualised training priorities.


Note this does not mean spend your period off adding on useless extra size that will only lead to re-injury when you return from carrying weight that you are not used to (in truth you would need a relatively significant stint on the sidelines to have long enough time to add genuine muscle tissue).


But more usefully, say general upper body strength, or specifically spending more time on the shoulder stability on your right shoulder that you have been talking about, or now being forced to add in some isometric work that you have been thinking about playing around with for a while - now that you are forced to use it as a safe option targeting the injured site, etc. Plenty of potential examples, but you get the point.


The underlying point here is that there is far more to physical preparation and performance than merely maximum strength – maximum power – maximum speed, at 100%, all the time. Recovery methods, pre-hab/mobility/stability and sub-max work are all equally as important even though they are no where near as sexy or enjoyable to perform. It is just that it generally takes an injury before they get any attention from a player. But that is not to say that you can’t continue to train to a very high level in certain areas and using certain methods mentioned earlier – it is just that maybe you can’t do 100% of what you were doing prior to the injury.


So an injury of some kind is rarely (note I said rarely, not never) a legitimate excuse. Just because you have a specific issue with a certain joint or muscle doesn’t mean it cant be used in a certain way (a stabiliser for example) and just because you are trying to stay off your leg altogether, doesn’t mean other areas can’t be worked on.


Talk about turning a negative into a positive. As well as being a player of action rather than a player of excuses.


So put your gear on and don’t pull out of the next 4 weeks of work.


Strength Coach


Download Strength Coach's Essential FREE Report

Discover the best ways to instantly improve your footy strength training program by downloading our FREE report 'The Top 8' Tips for Improving your footy Strength Training Program - Including 1 that even the best programs out there don't follow

You have Successfully Subscribed!