There is a common belief that if anything is hard to achieve, it must be good! When designing a workout, one needs to look at the larger picture. By pushing an athlete to the limit, we lose sight of the larger goals involved in excellence. Every athlete’s adaptation level is different for the same set of exercise protocols, even if they possess the same skill set. One exercise cannot make an athlete but can definitely break them. Mindfulness in understanding the different physical abilities and their adaptation is critical in programme design and execution.
Here are some points to ponder while designing and executing a plan for peak performance and to avoid plateauing as well as prevent injuries.
Any adaptation would take time and cannot be hurried. Too much too soon is a concoction for disaster. Young athletes can withstand a considerable amount of training load, but chances for breakdown are humongous.
Too many drills
Packing in too many drills in a session can be counterproductive for neuro-muscular adaptation. It will make the athlete tired and lose focus.
‘Lifting to failure’ or ‘training to failure’ sounds good and macho, but in reality, it leads to failure. It’s natural for an athlete to hold back while anticipating failure which in turn leads to poor adaptation.
Exercise repetition overload
Focusing on just one area of work, be it posterior chain or anterior chain or function movement patterns, can lead to inadequate training response.
It’s a common mistake to overload spine through repetitive movement or load, which leads to many complications. Choosing the exercise prudently makes an immense impact on the training goal.
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Excessive dependence on one training method or programme can lead to specific adaptations instead of the full adaptation required to perform in a sporting field. You train for what you want to be at the end of the spectrum.
Train with rich dynamic environment. Training on a non-challenging atmosphere can lead to wrong adaptation.
Quick fix programme
No programme can be a quick fix or a crash course. Adaptation takes time and specific timeframes can be monitored for varied components of fitness to be developed.
For example, testing for speed or agility or COD is good, but if the transfer of testing speed to game speed doesn’t happen, then the whole modality comes under question. There are athletes who do not have excellent testing speed but their game speed is second to none, be it in change of direction or accelerating or decelerating. You can chase testing speed times, but you’ll only become a better player if you can transfer that speed to the game. Work on decelerating, planting, cutting, and re-accelerating.
Points to ponder
Emphasise quality and recognise that quality is a measure of near perfection. Look carefully at the training programmes and look for the areas that can be done better. If you are training for 60 minutes, is your athlete better or are they just getting fatigued?
Adaptation to various training stimuli takes time. You can’t force adaptation to happen faster than the athlete’s current level of train-ability and physical capacity.
Who is an adaptable athlete?
When the physical limitations are eradicated and the player is ready technically, tactically, psychologically and physically to compete and win at any given situation, time or place, he is considered an adaptable athlete.
There is a lot of planning required to make an athlete adaptable. We are spending a lot of time in analysing the path rather than preparing the athlete for the path.
Who is an adapted athlete?
- ⦿ Early specialisation — An athlete is stuck to one sport or is trained specifically for one sport
- ⦿ Biased towards a particular type of training — Strength/aerobic fitness/ yoga/ other schools of fitness
- ⦿ Lack of knowledge or physical literacy about his or her own body and awareness.
- ⦿ Under training and over-competing
- ⦿ Persistent niggles and injuries related to the above points
Whom are we training ? A zoo lion or a jungle lion?
Life of a zoo lion: It’s well-fed, lazy, fat, looks good/cute and is adapted to the zoo environment.
Life of a jungle lion: It’s mean, lean, hungry, fierce and is on a mission to survive.
Which one will thrive in competition and deliver when needed? We all know the answer.
Optimising human movement is about enhancing connections and not segment it to specific body parts. Connections within the body, connections to the environment and to the sport makes one adaptable.
We all have smart bodies. As S&C coaches, we must learn how to better tap into specific aptitude. When we connect all the movements, it all becomes a beautiful dance characterised by rhythm and flow. Augmenting connections will result in a more robust adaptable athlete.