Tuesday, May 3, 2011

3 Components of Training for Team Sports

I was fortunate to meet Raymond Verheijen at an NSCAA convention several years ago.  He has an excellent command of fitness training from the scientific approach, but I was most impressed with his practical application of how to implement fitness training into team sports.  He discussed 3 components of fitness training for team sports.

1. Maximize the Speed of Actions
2. Maintain the Speed of Actions
3. Reduce the Recovery Time Needed Between Actions

Really a very simple no nonsense approach to training.  I have thought much about this classification system and have added some thoughts of my own to this that I will share below.

First, the number 1 training priority is to maximize the speed of action within the game.  Team sports are broken down into a series of individual actions . . . LeBron beating his defender off the dribble, Vidic closing the space on an attacker to make a tackle, Lindstrom checking an opponent into the boards.  These battles or singular actions during a game are often won by the speed and explosiveness of their action. From a physiological perspective, this speed and explosiveness is Anaerobic Power. 

The second training priority is to maintain the speed of actions throughout the game.  This means being able to execute the skills of the game with the same speed and explosiveness throughout the entirety of the game.  This maintenance of power is Anaerobic Capacity.

The third training priority is to reduce the recovery time needed between actions in the game.  The quicker a player recovers, the more explosive actions they can perform during the game.  Decreasing the recovery time needed between actions is a function of Aerobic Capacity. 

1. Maximize the Speed of Actions = Anaerobic Power (AnP)
2. Maintain the Speed of Actions = Anaerobic Capacity (AnC)
3. Reduce the Recovery Time Needed Between Actions = Aerobic Capacity (AeC)

I have used 3 tests to assess my athletes in these 3 categories and have found a relatively simple way to identify areas of strength and weakness for individual players which in turn allows me to prescribe fitness training more appropriate to developing the individual player. You can 'google' any of these tests to find out the specific protocols for each. 

1. AnP - counter movement vertical jump (CMJ), and 40m sprint. These 2 tests look at the power and speed abilities of the player.
2. AnC - repeated anaerobic sprint test (RAST). This test looks at the ability of the player to maintain speed with short rest intervals.
3. AeC - multi-stage fitness test (MSF). This test looks at the aerobic capacity of the player, or their ability to consume and utilize oxygen. 

Based on these 3 tests (I listed 4, but you can get the 40m sprint time from the best time when running the RAST) I develop a radial graph to show the proficiency for each individual as shown below. 

A player who demonstrates excellent AeC but who needs development in AnP

A player who is lacking AeC and AnC

A well developed player in all areas

From a simplistic approach let's talk about how to prescribe fitness training for each of the 3 categories of fitness. 

1. Maximize the Speed of Action (AnP) - short, maximum efforts with long rest intervals. The key to developing speed of action is, well, speed of action.  If short rest intervals are used, then the athlete will not be able to execute with maximal speed of action on consecutive repetitions. The duration of the effort should be very short; 3-10sec. The rest interval should be at least 90 seconds. Typically I use short sprints, high load weight training ranging from 1-5 repetitions and explosive plyometric work to train this quality. As the intensity of the effort is the focus, I do not use heart rate as an indicator when training this quality.  Some people have suggested using heart rate to determine the length of the rest period. For example, when their heart rate returns to 60% HRM, they begin their next repetition.  I would caution against this with athletes who have a well developed AeC, as metabolically they may recover quickly but from a nervous system standpoint it may take longer than indicated from heart rate alone.  

2. Maintaining the Speed of Action (AnC) - short, maximum efforts with short rest intervals.  Training this is the most taxing of the 3 qualities.  Maximum or near maximum repeated efforts with short rest intervals.  Use caution not to train this quality on consecutive days and at a maximum 3 times per week.  I have read studies that show that 1 time per week is adequate.  I'll talk more on this in future blogs about "the minimum effective dose" and "polarizing your training".  Typically I'll use short sprints or runs up to 30 seconds and use a 1:1 work to rest ratio for prescribing the rest interval.  Each series of intervals should last roughly 4-8 minutes and repeated after a full rest interval (~6 minutes) for up to 4 series.  I'll also use Tabata Intervals (you can google this phrase) for weight room activities to develop this system.  I do recommend the use of heart rate when training this quality.  I want to achieve heart rates of +90%HRM or sport zone 5 when we are training this quality.  

3. Reducing the Recovery Time Needed Between Actions (AeC) - long, low intensity efforts with short intermittent rest intervals.  This can be a difficult quality to train for some individuals because it requires them to not work as hard as they feel they should.  I use heart rate for training this quality and try keeping the athletes in the 65-75%HRM or sport zone 3 range.  Long steady state runs work for developing this quality, but I most often prefer to use tempo runs (google this term if needed). Tempo runs are basically multiple intervals of stride work over distances of 50m-800m with active recovery or walking. I use 100-200m and typically design my sets on a 1:2 work to rest ratio lasting up to 6 minutes, taking a 3 minute rest then repeating for up to 4 series.  The athlete should run at a pace that is equal to about 70% of their maximum speed for the distance prescribed.  There is a great book out there on designing tempo workouts titled "Running Trax". 

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