Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Strategy Development: How is a training strategy determined based on the sport?

In the last entry I discussed overload and adaptation. The idea was that incremental overloads on a regular basis, allows the body to adapt to these increases in stress by a physiological change in the ability of the body to perform the specific task at greater and greater levels of output.

When training a particular athlete, how is this idea of overload/adaptation implemented?
The training, both tactically and strategically, must be specific to the sport. This statement is obvious but becomes much more complicated and tricky as the athlete becomes fitter.

A good example would be in training a 100 meter sprinter. It makes sense anecdotally that having a really strong grip is not going to make you a great sprinter. So spending large amounts of time on one’s grip would not be the best use of training time for a sprinter. Now a wrestler would look at his grip as an important part of the sport, and a weak grip would be something that would need to be addressed. The correlation of grip to wrestling has a much higher relationship than the correlation of grip to sprinting.

The above example demonstrates the concept of correlation and how it relates to training. If one had the time and the inclination, correlation coefficients could be measured on different performance measures to rank the value of training exercises relative to a sport. The correlation coefficient is a number between -1 and 1. If there is no relationship between the predicted values and the actual values the correlation coefficient is 0 or lower (the predicted values are no better than random numbers. This would be the example of grip strength to sprinting). As the strength of the relationship between the predicted values and actual values increases, so does the correlation coefficient. A perfect fit gives a coefficient of 1.0. Thus the higher the correlation coefficient of an exercise to the specific needs of the sport, the greater the value of the exercise. A negative correlation number would be actions or exercises that actually take away from the performance of a specific sport. These correlations are really measured by the experience of the coach or through trial and error of an athlete.

Strength and conditioning coaches must think through this idea of correlation, and determine what aspects of a training strategy have the most impact on the performance of the athlete in a sport. If this is not being evaluated then precious training time is being wasted on areas that have little impact on the performance of the athlete. At Titan we look for “tipping point” fitness gains. These tipping points are areas of fitness that with small gains can produce huge changes in the performance of the athlete during the game. In most cases the tipping points present themselves after evaluating an athlete for functional fitness. Many tipping point fitness issues can be identified in this evaluation. Another area that has this type of fitness leverage is found in movements where power needs to be maintained for longer durations of time. There are a lot of athletes that have great vertical jumps; however they can only execute a handful of jumps at a high output level. Training the athlete so they can maintain 90-100% of this output for a longer duration creates champions and changes their performance dramatically in competition.

In summary, think about the correlation of your training to your performance in sport. Constantly be evaluating where this concept can help your performance. In addition, if you want faster results look for areas of weakness that would provide you with that “tipping point” performance progression. These are both game changers.

Train smart, have fun, and you will prevail!


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