SPORTS PERFORMANCE

Train Like the Pros

Detailed visual representation (Infograph) of my article 4 Guiding Principles of Team Training Design Read More

David Tenney Seattle Sounders Part 1

Content:

Importance of academics

Department design and implementation

Medical interaction

Mentors & Influences.

Check Out Seattle Sounders Sports Science Weekend here!

 

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Talent = Natural Ability + Attitude + Commitment + Physical Structure + Luck

What parts of this equation can we affect?

Experience tells me that it is NEVER right on the night unless you've done the work!  I've had the privilege of working directly with some of Australia's best football athletes, as they fought through significant long term orthopedic injuries and I can tell you first hand…the only thing that gets you through the hard times in rehabilitation is hard work!

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Survival of the Fittest sounds like a great name for a TV show doesn't it!  When it comes to being a professional S&C coach however, if your program resembles anything like a TV show, you may find your future limited.  Read More

January of any year… the silly season has passed, summer is on the run and the winter sporting season is rapidly approaching. The time has come for all Australian football code amateur athletes to make the decision whether to sit in third grade for the colder months or make a play for a spot higher up the “food chain”.

Whether it’s Rugby Union, Rugby League, Soccer or A.F.L. physical performance i.e. speed, strength & endurance, plays a significant role in determining individual and team success. Obviously there are substantial differences between the codes; however each has the common bond of requiring the ability to couple repeated explosive speed efforts with periods of sub-maximal “stride-out” pace transition running and combative strength engagements.  Check out my Blog on Weekend Warriors for more detail.

The ability to combine performance parameters of such varied means is a challenging task. Without question it is a task much more easily attempted with an organized plan. Heading out to the gym or park to train, deciding on your session content after arrival at the venue is a sure-fire way to achieve mediocrity in your physical performance. The guy who does tread this path generally does two things:

  1. Trains only things they are good at and
  2. Repeats the same session “ad infinitum”.

BOTH HABITS LEAD NOWHERE!

The keys to optimizing physical performance are:

  • Intensity: Training at too low an intensity will not stimulate the body to make the adaptations that will produce superior performance. Care must be taken not to go overboard in this department as this can lead to injury and staleness. Ensure regular unloading phases are taken.
  • Specificity: Train fast…be fast.
  • Variety: Varying training volume, intensity and exercise types on a regular basis provides the body continued stimulus to adapt.
  • Consistency: Training consistency reduces to peaks and troughs of performance that occur when people fluctuate between periods of training.

While Martin Luther King preached, “all men are created equal” – the reality of sport is that this is not the case. Some individuals appear to do two fifths of nothing and still blitz the field while other guys “plug” away relentlessly and seem to achieve little over a long period of time.

This article is for the guy who “plugs” away (mainly because the other type of bloke won’t bother reading a fitness article...that said it will work well for him too!). The program detailed below is designed for the guy that has be doing some base fitness work over the summer and is ready to start some more intense work.

Don’t attempt this program if you are walking straight off the “silly season” with no work under your belt.

 

GENERAL TRAINING NOTES:

  • An appropriate Warm Up must precede each session.
    • 10-15min light activity and dynamic mobility.
  • An appropriate Cool Down must follow each session.
    • 10min easy jog + 10min static stretches (hold for 30-45sec).
  • Coaching must be sought for those exercises you are unfamiliar with!
  • The program in organized into two CYCLES (Week 1-3 & Week 4-6)
  • Week 1-3 is aimed at allowing your body to become accustomed to higher volumes of work.
  • Week 4-6 is aimed at applying greater intensity to your body in order to produce more advanced performance.
  • The program is based around completing three days training per week of 1-hour maximum following the format noted below;
  • Monday – Speed
  • Wednesday – Strength
  • Friday – Endurance
  • While this program contains elements of programs used at the highest level, the design is aimed specifically at achieving as much as possible within a limited time frame (3 x 1hr per week). 

MONDAY – Speed

 

 

WORK

INTENSITY

RECOVERY

WEEK 1

Set 1

3 x (10 x 100m on 60sec)

Finish in 14-18sec

3min

 

 

 

 

Between sets

WEEK 2

Set 1

5 x 200m on 2min

Finish in 35-40sec

3min

 

Set 2

2 x (10 x 100m on 60sec)

Finish in 14-18sec

Between sets

WEEK 3

Set 1

10 x 200m on 2min

Finish in 35-40sec

3min

 

Set 2

10 x 100m on 60sec

Finish in 14-18sec

Between sets

WEEK 4

Set 1

6 x 60m – Tempo Runs

80% effort – focus on rhythm!

Walk back between each rep. 3min rest before Set 2

 

Set 2

2 x (6 x 20m) – Speed

90-100%

2min between each rep

WEEK 5

Set 1

6 x 60m – Tempo Runs

80% effort – focus on rhythm!

Walk back between each rep. 3min rest before Set 2

 

Set 2

2 x (3 x 20m) – Speed

90-100%

2min between each rep

 

Set 3

2 x (4 x 10m) - Speed

90-100%

2min between each rep

WEEK 6

Set 1

6 x 50m – Tempo Runs

80% effort – focus on rhythm!

Walk back between each rep. 3min rest before Set 2

 

Set 2

2 x (3 x 20m) – Speed

90-100%

2min between each rep

 

Set 3

2 x (2 x 10m) - Speed

90-100%

2min between each rep

 

SPECIFIC TRAINING NOTES:

  • "on 60sec" means you start a new rep every 60 sec.  The time remaining between completing the rep and the start of the next 60sec period is your recovery.
  • With Tempo and Speed efforts always start out a little bit "under" in your intensity and build as you feel comfortable.
  • See TRAIN TOUGH® for more detailed information

 

WEDNESDAY – Strength

ORDER

EXERCISE

WEEK 1

WEEK 2

WEEK 3

TEMPO

REC

A.

 

Deadlift

6 x 4

5 x 5

4 x 6

2/-/Drop

90sec

B.

Back Extension (BW Only)

3 x 10

3 x 12

3 x 14

2/2/2

90sec

C.

Split Squat or Bulgarian Squat

6 x 4

5 x 5

4 x 6

2/1/2

90sec

D.

Single Leg Calf Raise

2 x 12

2 x 14

2 x 16

2/2/2

90sec

E.

DB Shoulder Press

6 x 4

5 x 5

4 x 6

3/1/1

90sec

F.

UG Chin Up (add wt. as req)

6 x 4

5 x 5

4 x 6

3/1/1

90sec

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SPECIFIC TRAINING NOTES:

  • IN WEEK 1 select a weight that allows you to complete the prescribed reps but is quite challenging (i.e.; you should just complete each set).
  • For WEEK 2 & 3 complete each set at the same weight as Week 1, completing the higher number of reps as per the program.
  • See TRAIN TOUGH® for more detailed information

 

ORDER

EXERCISE

WEEK 4

WEEK 5

WEEK 6

TEMPO

REC

A1.

Jumps for Distance

Walk back and reset each one

4 x 4

4 x 4

3 x 4

Explosive

N/A

A2.

Deadlift

5 x 3

Increase wt. each set

Reps must be completed clean no failure

4 x 3

Increase wt. each set

Reps must be completed clean no failure

3 x 3

Increase wt. each set

Reps must be completed clean no failure

2/-/Drop

2-3min

B1.

Eccentric Glute-Ham Raise or Nordic Lower

2 x 3

2 x 4

2 x 5

4sec lower

N/A

B2.

Single Leg Calf Hops

2 x 20

2 x 20

2 x 20

Explosive

90sec

C1.

Drop Push Up

4 x 4

4 x 4

3 x 4

Explosive

N/A

C2.

Bench Press

5 x 5

Increase wt. each set

Reps must be completed clean no failure

4 x 3

Increase wt. each set

Reps must be completed clean no failure

4 x 2

Increase wt. each set

Reps must be completed clean no failure

2/1/X

N/A

C3.

Bench Pull

5 x 5

Increase wt. each set

Reps must be completed clean no failure

4 x 3

Increase wt. each set

Reps must be completed clean no failure

4 x 2

Increase wt. each set

Reps must be completed clean no failure

2/1/1

2min

 

SPECIFIC TRAINING NOTES:

  • Select a weight that allows you to complete the prescribed reps but is quite challenging.  Ideally, start out conservatively and build across the set as indicated.
  • Technique must be maintained at all times.
  • Exercises grouped under the same letter are completed as a complex (i.e. together) and recovery is taken after the pair of exercises is complete.
  • Professional coaching should be sort for specialist instruction.
  • See TRAIN TOUGH® for more detailed information

 

FRIDAY - Endurance

 

 

WORK

INTENSITY

RECOVERY

WEEK 1

SET 1

6 x 4min efforts

85-90% MHR

1min between sets

 

 

 

 

WEEK 2

SET 1

5 x 5min efforts

85-90% MHR

1min between sets

 

 

 

 

 

WEEK 3

SET 1

4 x 7min efforts

85-90% MHR

1min between sets

 

 

 

WEEK 4

Set 1

3 x (10 x 100m on 60sec)

Finish in 15-18sec

3min between sets

 

 

 

 

 

WEEK 5

Set 1

4 x (10 x 50m on 30sec)

Finish in 7-8sec

3min between sets

 

 

 

 

WEEK 6

Set 1

3 x (10 x 50m on 30sec)

Finish in 7-8sec

3min between sets

 

 

 

 

 

SPECIFIC TRAINING NOTES:

  • "on 60sec" means you start a new rep every 60 sec.  The time remaining between completing the rep and the start of the next 60sec period is your recovery.
  • Timed Efforts require a balanced pace across the entire set.  Use a standardized area for these sets and mark your distance for each one.  Try to equal or beat each rep.
  • MHR = Maximum Heart Rate.
  • Ideally a heart rate monitor should be used to assess heart rate.
  • If MHR is not known use MHR = 220 – age as an estimate
  • See TRAIN TOUGH® for more detailed information on determining MHR

You will note in the above program calf work has been included throughout. In team field sports the calves face close to the greatest muscular workload of the body. It is critical to the longevity of the field sport athlete that calf strength and endurance be optimised. This program presents a basic introduction level calf program. In order to achieve an advanced level of calf strength a more intense dynamic loading program needs to follow.

The program detailed above is generic in nature and may not suit everybody. Ensure you seek the guidance of a qualified coach if you are uncertain about any elements particularly with regard to strength training skill.

The loading parameters used in this program are limited given the scope of this article. Athletes seeking more advanced programming and / or exercise descriptions should read my book TRAIN TOUGH®

Remember, the keys to success are intensity, specificity, variety and consistency. Follow these and you can be confident that you will always be moving forward.

Sign up to OLDBULLFITNESS.COM for FREE (see bottom of page) - receive a complementary e-book on TRAINING DENSITY and keep up to date on more training tools for amateur and developing athletes.

Good luck with your preseason.

JW

PS - The formatting on this program has lost a little in the translation to the website.  I will post a PDF of the original ASAP.

When working in professional team sports the complexity of the task at hand can sometimes be daunting.  In order to succeed, or at the very least not kill yourself in the pursuit of your job, you need to have a very simple, high clarity definition of what is important to you!

Personally, I adhere to the motto; "In order to finish first, first you must finish".  

There are no prizes in sport for being the best trainer (otherwise Pukey the Clown and his merry bunch of followers would dominate every sport).  Prizes in sport are only given to those who compete at the highest level and win, which requires the best players on the field for the longest period of time possible.  

Based on this, my decisions are driven everyday by what I need to do to ensure my players are available to train and play in a condition that will allow them to sustain the required performance for the longest period possible.

So, as a New Years exercise, sit back quietly and answer the question "What is important to you?".

Here's a couple of things I've seen over time that you may want to watch out for along the way.

Don't be sucked in to chasing too many performance outcomes at once.  I get the plethora of periodization models out there at the moment, but too often I see young coaches writing programs that do nothing but induce massive levels of fatigue by layering too many otherwise good methods on top of one another.  Prioritise what you really value and focus on getting that done.  Ensure the athlete can recover between sessions, and by recover I mean demonstrate adaptation and improvement.

Don't be sucked into trends.  Learn off coaches who have been around for a long time and had success in multiple environments.  Take that knowledge and distill it into your own Training Model.  Assuming you haven't tried to completely "reinvent the wheel", and you've listened to your mentors you should end up with a model that may be refined over time but ultimately will serve you well throughout your career.

Test what you value and what will help you make decisions.  Don't collect data for data's sake.  It kills good young graduate students and more importantly distracts you from the task at hand.  If data doesn't help you make a decision get rid of it!

Maintain quality over quantity.  Never sacrifice the quality of mechanical execution in the pursuit of numbers.  The advent of GPS has seen many programs chase speed and distance numbers.  This practice ends only in one place and I can guarantee its not on the podium.  We know via rDNA transcription your body will adapt to what you do.  Practice perfectly.

Focus on what is important to you and your program and don't be distracted from that course of action. 

JW

In this day and age the professional sporting environment is overwhelmed by the scope and magnitude of "monitoring variables".  What do we measure.  How frequently do we measure?  Confusing the mix even more, is a plethora of new technology available now, and more coming out everyday day that allows us to assess everything from HRV to CK to functional ROM etc etc etc.

In a recent blog marketing guru Seth Godin made an insightful observation about the similar proliferation of productivity apps..

"...you'd think that with all the iPad productivity apps, smartphone productivity apps, productivity blogs and techniques and discussions... that we'd be more productive as a result.
Are you more productive?
I wonder how much productivity comes from new techniques, and how much comes from merely getting sick of non-productivity and deciding to do something that matters, right now".

Here's my very simple take on setting up your monitoring and ensuring you do something that matters;

1. Use a balance of objective and subjective information
Objective data is critical to any monitoring process and must be a cornerstone of any model.  Objective data well collected gives you reliable information.  Subjective data must be treated carefully, but is also a key element.  To be very clear, I define Subjective data as anything were an athlete has a choice.  Obviously this includes RPE & Welling being type questions but in my view it also extends to assessments such as jump or strength strength assessments.  In tests of this nature the athlete must be relied upon to give maximum effort in order to be confident that what the data is showing you is a true function of neural freshness etc.  I have seen many times the obvious failure of individuals to give 100% because of how they "feel", clearly a subjective response, hence my categorisation of these tests as subjective in nature.  Subjective data does give you an insight into the psychological status of the individual, information that may be useful in helping you understand the athlete's current capacity.

2. Ensure the data collection is repeatable 
As with anything based on science ensure your methodologies are sound and easily repeatable.  In oder to be capable of making decisions on data you must have complete faith in the information.

3. Understand the limitations of the data
Nothing is ever absolute.  Understand clearly the depth of detail data offers you.  Be very careful and considered when establishing how much weight you place on any one piece of data. 

4. Establish thresholds for your data set
Once you have confidence in a given variable, establish well documented thresholds which can serve as "quick" alerts.  By documenting a given threshold you are committing to a systematic approach to your monitoring.  Leaving "grey zones" makes it harder to define to a senior or head coach your rationale for making decisions regarding an athlete. 

5. Define your decision making process / how you will use the data
Clearly establish in advance how you are going to use data.  Talk to your skills coaches in advance so that they understand (even at a superficial level) the rationale behind your decision making process, because ultimately you will need to make decisions about training that will impact them significantly.

6. Internal research is valuable
Running internal research on your data is the most consistent way to establish and validate your procedures.  Published academic research can support to an extent but it has been my experience that the strongest research you can generate is that measured in your environment on your people.

7. Connect the dots - Look for the patterns - recognise symptom from cause
Like S&C coaching, Monitoring is both a science and an art form.  By committing to a systematic approach as noted above and investing in your own internal research you can quantify the information that dictates immediate action, and the information that on its own isn't necessarily a "call to arms" but when linked with other data paints a picture.  There are computer systems that try to put some of this information together, (I've been involved in the design of two) but for me there is a critical skill set in being able to join the dots and see the picture.  

For example an 85kg AFL running machine presents the following data; 
Forward sacral torsion noted 2x in training 2 days prior - both corrected without issue
Tight left quad noted post training two days ago - treated locally, no loss ROM or strength
Sit and Reach down left this morning
Physio reports forward sacral torsion left this morning - corrected 
History restricted Right 1st MTP joint (degenerative)

Looking at the picture the quad tightness is symptomatic of the sacral torsion being caused by an unload due to a degenerative MTP joint.  Actions need to be around focus on the right foot, local management of the left quad and modification of the speed content of training until correct dorsi-flexion of the toe can be achieved to even out running mechanics.  Looking at the data from a holistic perspective allowed a decision to be made that allowed an appropriate training stimulus to be applied but also addressed the origin of the issue.

NB: At the same time I was testing a running asymmetry model which also supported the observation of a running imbalance.  This data contributes to the case for including asymmetry data my monitoring mix.  Testing continues!

8. Know your athletes
This is undoubtably the core tenant of being a coach.  The data tells a story, but the story describes an individual.  Knowing that individual, his capacity to tolerate loads, injury history and other individual nuances allows you to see the patterns in the data and interpret them meaningfully.  

Everybody goes overboard with data at different times.  Make sure at regular intervals you step back and have a good look at what you are measuring and why.  If you can create a sound rationale for you system that is effective at keeping your athletes at their very best you are on the right path.

Yours in S&C 

JW

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When it comes to sled work only one thing matters...ATTITUDE!

Depending on the implement you are using and it's reaction to the surface (high or low friction) the load you put on may be massive or miniscule.

It doesn't matter.  When working sleds its ATTITUDE to get the job done that makes the difference.

Try working %EFFORT for time e.g. 30sec, 45sec, 60sec.  You can build up with efforts of ascending intensity just as you would for conventional strength lifts.

If you are on the same surface all the time that's a luxury, you can alter the weight accordingly. 

For those who work outside, particularly on grass, the surface is quickly affected by environmental conditions so you may have to adapt your load.  When that happens keep your focus on relative intensity.  Ask yourself how hard you are going.  If the answer isn't yet 100% load up and get moving! 

Great test of your INTEGRITY as an athlete!

JW

 

As I am again on the cusp on another preseason and in light of my recent rant on SSG's I felt it relevant to pen a few more ramblings…hope they help stimulate some thinking.

As most S&C coaches would understand, there is an implicit link between the body and the mind.  There is little doubt that if the mind is willing, the body can do some amazing things.  In this context I think it is vital that as "coaches" we don't get caught up in coaching numbers and we ensure we coach "people".  

Over the years I have observed a phenomena I termed "cone to cone culture".  This culture essentially describes the athletic context of knowing exactly what is required of you i.e. a definitive start and finish (I must say I have seen this cultural trait grow with the Y and iGen guys coming through)  While this is a "luxury" afforded the cyclic athlete, it is world apart from the harsh reality of field sport.

Yes we know when the game starts, and broadly when each period will finish and subsequently resume.  What we don't know for certain is what will happen in the middle.  Unquestionably there has been plenty of research in every field sport under the sun to describe the average attributes of each game…and that stuff looks great on paper and gives us some guidelines.

But reality is it doesn't really help the athlete.  Why?  Put simply the athlete has to decide to "go".  Field sport is not a series of controlled events.  It is ultimately series of "occasions" on which the athlete decides to impart themselves on the game.  Tim Gabbitt's research has focused extensively on Repeat High Intensity Efforts (RHIE) primarily in blocks of three.  However discussing the subject with him recently, he noted that his current enquires are looking at the significance of blocks of two efforts and their impact on the game.  We discussed how two maximum efforts over 10sec can be just as debilitating as three or four but because they occur more often they may be of more impact on the game.  Either way the completion of an RHIE in a field sport takes a decision on the athlete's behalf.

In house research I conducted when I was with the Wallabies showed clearly the impact of multiple efforts.  I arbitrarily looked at test matches in terms of the number of "series" of plays that took place in the game.  A series was defined as any multiples of play bounded before and after by a 60sec period of non-play.  This was defined as a "significant break".  My logic was that within a game, periods of non-play less than 60sec would offer insufficient recovery to the players and constitute an accumulating fatigue .  Now clearly there are significant positional differences, but as this was conducted with a stop watch at a time when GPS was only just being introduced (and was illegal to wear during test matches…but I did happen to get few games that nobody noticed well ahead of IRB clearance) I was working on the basis of "whole of team play" i.e. if payers conducted their "normal" patterns and work rates at any given time, it would be relatively consistent within the "game" and therefore I anticipated a consistent accumulation of fatigue in any given "series" of play.  I accept there were a few assumptions being made, but that's the difference between the real world and the test tube.

In any case I was able to determine how many series of plays existed in a game.  The average "series" was 3.5min SD 1.1min followed by a break of average 1.5min SD 1.2min.  What did this all mean.  I got two things out of the quasi-research:

1. It gave me a clear idea of what I needed to condition for; 3-4min of position specific work** (with a maximum observed of 10min), followed 1.5-2min break.  This set the outline for all on-field and off-field conditioning drills.

** Position Specific work is obviously dictated by where and how a player plays and conformed to much of the published research.  

2. It gave me an insight into the work required to beat different oppositions;
South Africa / England were significantly bigger than us, and wanted to slow the game down…we needed to compete on speed, power and RHIE by creating an up tempo game.
All Blacks…can dish up anything…my old mates Mike Anthony and Greame Lowe produced some great teams then as now…we tended to be slightly better on the RHIE work in the mid 00's…but they got us for power and speed.
This is were I come back to SSG (Small Sided Games).  In a well designed and controlled SSG the athletes are being forced to make decisions not only of a technical and tactical nature but from a physical perspective.  How hard can I go right now?  Will I last the game?  If the "clutch" moment of the game comes up after I've made two efforts already can I take the opportunity?  In essence they have to self regulate how much they physically exert within the game (I hear rumblings about Central Governor Theory in the background as I am writing).

So from a practical perspective I think it is critical for the S&C coach to closely evaluate the distribution of specific conditioning work conducted in running drills, match sim drills (medium contact game simulation), and SSG.  Personally, I have a front end of preseasons that tend toward a 70:30 split running:match sim/SSG for approximately 5-6 weeks (I account for low level skill acquisition in overall load, but I don't evaluate it as a conditioning variable).  This will invert and move to 20:80 in the 4-5 weeks pre-comp.  

Running drills are great and give you complete control, balancing all the key programming variables.  But they don't make the athlete decide to "go" in a strategic context.  That said don't underestimate control, because if you can't achieve an appropriate training effect elsewhere, you need to achieve it in running drills

Training drills can be good with a coach who is on the same page and close monitoring of GPS tracking to ensure appropriate loading for each player (I noted the pit falls of this hand SSG in http://www.oldbullfitness.com/blogs/old-bull-training/10031837-thoughts-on-outcome-vs-process-and-small-sided-games).

SSG implementation is the perfect forum for athletes to develop their ability to choose to execute an RHIE series.  An SSG can serve to educate the athlete on when and where they need to "go" and more importantly it teaches them the ability to "expose" themselves by going flat out, enduring the sustained fatigue, recover and then go again.  Control of the loading variables is always a tricky one and in this day and age comes back to the technology you have at hand and your coach's eye.

One of the greatest things I have learnt since moving into the AFL (Australian Football League) is what I call the "Deadman's Run".  Thats the player who explodes into space, often as part of an RHIE and drags hapless defenders into spaces they don't want to be in, only to see the ball flash in the other direction creating a scoring opportunity.  This is the perfect example of a mentally and physically prepared athlete…one who is prepared to put it on the line physically for his team knowing full well there is no glory at the end for him…RESPECT!  When you can get the bulk of your players committing to this you know you've broken the "cone to cone culture".

As always, these are the ramblings of one guy.  Nothing in S&C is every is ever absolute.  Hope this provides some food for thought.

Got any questions...give me yell here and I will do my best!

If you get something out of this throw me a "Like" on Facebook...thanks.

JW

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