Overtraining… a misconception when it comes to footwork, speed work and sport specific performance work.
By Mark Wine CSCS – BA
There seems to be a misunderstanding in the “performance training” world about how much is too much. The issue lies in the overall picture and not the workouts or their program. In the private sector the “performance coach” attempts to push training on athletes, more college / high school age, at a high intensity rate often. Although INTENSITY is always needed a coach needs to account for the overall training volume. Let’s look at Basketball:
- Recovery Aids
- Mental State
When we look at the total picture you realize that there is a lot in making a successful athlete, one that stays healthy more often than not while being able to perform at a high level consistently. When performance coaches do not account for nor take the time to understand more than the what’s on the outside they often forget that the athlete comes first. More importantly, it is the athlete who owns their successes, not the coach. Athletes do the work, they commit to the work and they bring intensity to the work. Their goals and passion have to line up with their direction. For these reasons Performance Coaches need to focus more on curtailing to the athlete then themselves.
A few solutions / rules we like to look at:
1. Take a 2-4 week break following each season; non-structured training allowed or little things that the athlete chooses but speed/agility work, big movements at high intensity and/or sport specific training should not be done
2. Following a short break following season begin with a movement screen to assess muscle strength and symmetry; of course, this would mean a baseline screen must be established prior to season that is valid. Suggestion:
- Closed change of direction (COD) drill, such as a pro-agility shuttle
- Linear speed test, such as a 20yd sprint
- Total body mobility / symmetry test, such as an overhead squat
- Lower Body unilateral strength test, such as a single leg squat
- Upper body test, such as pushups and pull ups
- Hip stability test, such as clams
There are other checks and balances but these are valid and reliable starting points for performance screens.
3. As the anticipation of an athletes return from a season is hard to wait on it is crucial that we do not throw athletes back in to the fire. Our history and past experiences show that starting athletes on a muscle activation / strength-based program focused on isometric tension, mobility, stability and mechanical efficiency first is the best method. More simply stated focus on hold positions that make the muscle fire for longer; work on mobility around the joints, so dynamic; focus on specific isolation exercises that increase activation around joints, which in turn provides stability; and working on creating efficient movement patterns regarding Olympic lifts, big multi-joint lifts and any multi-directional dynamic work that will be done in playing the sport (such as cutting, running and jumping).
4. In order for something like this to truly be successful the most important thing is the coach puts the athlete’s interest before their own.
We understand that every school, program, athlete and coach have different circumstances that affect their programs so it is important to note there is not a one-size fits all model. Therefore, a program should be focused on tracking injury and performance trends throughout off-season and in-season to evaluate their program on an annual basis.