We’re into the third week of August and teams around the UAE are preparing for the new local sports season.

It’s a dreaded time for those who have done little work in the off-season. However, it remains an exciting prospect to get back playing sport again after no action in recent months.

Various restrictions are in place for August, with training groups limited to 10 people or less. That number will rise to 50 from the beginning of September.

If you’re aiming to improve as an athlete then break down the different areas of your game and fitness before the season gets underway.

There is no worse feeling than being the player struggling at the back of the line during training runs or dropping balls consistently during skill work.

Every person will have different targets for the new campaign. But, for us, here are three areas to help you get ahead of the chasing pack.

Get the balance of your training right 

Irrespective of your sporting discipline, it is important to maintain extra fitness and conditioning work off the training ground.

If you are back in the gym looking to build strength, for example, don’t start lifting heavy weights straight away or you’ll increase the risk of injury.

The key is to build it up slowly. Start with doing 6-8 exercises of 8-12 repetitions each. If you feel like you can go heavier another day, then go heavier. If you’re tired then take a day off and do some walking or stretching instead.

You know your body better than anybody else so look after it. If you look after your body, your body will look after you when you need it the most.

What weaknesses do you need to work on? 

This varies depending on the player. However, each year will bring different areas of your game that need improvement.

Whether its flexibility, speed, fitness, skill work or targeting particular weak muscle groups, this is the perfect time to make progress before the season starts.

If it’s flexibility you need to improve then try yoga or pilates once a week, or even some simple stretches every morning.

If it’s speed then practice sprints, and if your objective is to improve upper body strength then lift heavier weights, but start slow.

If it’s skill work, get the ball out and meet up with a teammate to practice various skills. Doing simple skills at pace and intensity always makes a big difference.

This period before we can return to pitch as a full squad is the best time to get a head-start on teammates. So use the next few weeks wisely and be honest with yourself.

You can’t expect to improve your weaknesses without hard work and consistent training.

Eat well and feel sharp 

If you are looking to enjoy a strong start to the season then make some minor tweaks to your diet. You feel what you eat.

Eating well will reflect in your positivity on and off the training ground. There is nothing worse than eating bad food consistently and being in poor form.

One small change to make is reducing the amount of sugar or heavy carbs in your diet, whether it’s through fewer sugary drinks, heavy pasta, dairy products or sweets.

There are other healthier foods equally as nice like fruit, fish, lean meat, nuts, vegetables and gluten-free pasta or brown rice, which are easier on the stomach.

One thing to remember is that we all work hard so it is important to enjoy down-time with friends and family.

Make the most of your few nights out, have your cheat meals, but if you are motivated enough to get a step ahead of your teammates then be willing to make some sacrifices.

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