Friday, August 27, 2010

How I use the Team 2 system

This is a recent response to an email I received about how I use the T2 system with our players.

In general, I use the T2 system with men's soccer primarily . . . will use with women's soccer and men's basketball this coming fall.

I use the system to assess daily practice training intensity and volume, which collectively is termed "training load" and is a calculated feature with the T2 software. With this information we can determine how difficult a given training session/game is/was and gain a grasp of what the total weekly training stress is on individuals within the same team. It's obvious that some individuals have a much higher cumulative training load over the course of the week and season due to greater playing time in games, more involvement in the training sessions, etc. and that these athletes' fatigue rises and can result in sub-optimal performance. Likewise, other athletes have lower cumulative training loads which can result in lower fitness levels and sub-optimal performance. Using the system we can see these trends as they are occurring and adjust the overall training load accordingly.

Reducing training load thru limiting game time is really not an option. Reducing training load thru limiting practice time is sometimes necessary but is not the first choice. The primary reduction in overall training load will come through altering the type/intensity of work done off the field/court.

The other very interesting factor is looking at how much or what percentage of training load is accumulated at different intensities. i.e. what percentage of training load is 90%hrm and above, 80% and above, etc. This seems to be an area that is somewhat lacking in the research for team sports. There is some limited research out there on endurance athletes. I have found that our players range anywhere from 5-15% of weekly training load in the 90%+hrm range and that anywhere from 20-50% of the weekly training load is coming from 80%+ hrm. Question is "what is the optimal range"?

More recently, I have been trying to find a logistically feasable way to measure AT with a large group of athletes, like a soccer team. I think identifying individual AT numbers may narrow the gap of discrepancy that I see in training load at higher intensities.

From a very simplistic standpoint, I use the system to monitor daily/weekly/seasonal training load on the athletes and meet with the sport coaches on a daily basis to provide guidance on session design (to meet a selected training load and intensity for daily sessions) and to help structure the periodization of the week/season. For us, periodization is not stagnant, meaning that while we will outline the season in advance, the outcome may be very different than the plan. This requires daily/weekly assessment of actual training loads and the adjustment of future prescription.

Overall impression of the system is that, having used it, I couldn't be as effective without it. It is easy to structure and periodize sets, reps, intensities, frequency, etc. with specific fitness sessions, however to structure and periodize the practice sessions is exceptionally difficult without a tool that can help you assess the result of individual sessions. There are other means out there, session RPE is one . . . but I would argue that while RPE seems to be valid, what happened within the session to cause a given RPE is really the root of the question. If we know what happened to create the RPE for a given session we can begin to become more effective at prescribing sessions.

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