When it comes to maintaining peak athletic performance throughout the competitive season, the right training strategies can make all the difference. Transitioning from pre-season preparation to in-season play requires a strategic approach to ensure athletes remain robust and capable of handling the demands of the game. In this article, we will delve into key strategies for effectively transitioning from pre-season to in-season loading, allowing athletes to thrive during the long and challenging competitive season.
Highlights of the episode:
- Developing robust athletes
- Mistake #1 Intensity wearing off
- Mistake #2 Recovery culture
- Mistake #3 Max velocity exposure
- Mistake #4 Ability to train at max intensity
Developing Robust Athletes: The Foundation of Success
During the pre-season phase, the focus lies on developing robust athletes who can withstand the rigors of back-to-back matches and the continuous demands of a competitive season. This involves exposing athletes to chronic load in terms of both volume and high-speed running. Additionally, agility and contact training play crucial roles in creating well-rounded players ready for any challenge on the field. The underlying principle here is simple yet profound: robust athletes translate to better player availability, which, in turn, correlates with team success.
Mistake 1: The Recovery Trap
One common mistake that athletes and coaches fall into during the competitive season is the belief that the hard work is done in pre-season. This mindset can lead to a shift towards prioritizing recovery over training intensity. However, this approach can be detrimental. If athletes reduce the intensity of gym workouts and main training sessions or rely solely on game-day performance, they risk a significant reduction in their training loads – up to 50%. To truly excel during the season, high-intensity training both in the gym and on the field must remain a consistent part of the regimen.
Mistake 2: Neglecting Chronic Load
The transition from pre-season to in-season should not entail a drastic reduction in chronic training volume. Neglecting the training volume that athletes have built up over the pre-season months can lead to a “de-training” effect, particularly evident around the mid-season period. Maintaining a reasonable percentage of the pre-season chronic load – around 30% – ensures that athletes do not lose the progress they’ve made. For instance, semi-professional athletes might aim to maintain a load of over 21 kilometers per week, inclusive of game-day distances.
Mistake 3: Max Velocity Exposure
Maximizing velocity exposure is paramount for in-season success. Researchers suggest that maintaining a velocity of either -2 from the game day or -3 can be highly beneficial. This involves keeping up with the highest speeds achieved during training sessions, simulating match conditions and enhancing on-field performance. Additionally, training at or above match intensity levels is crucial. Jason Delaney’s work with rugby athletes emphasizes training above the average work rate per minute, a key metric for determining intensity. Maintaining accelerations and decelerations specific to player positions further refines in-season training.
The Path to In-Season Excellence
Effectively transitioning from pre-season to in-season loading involves avoiding common mistakes and adopting a well-rounded training strategy. By understanding the importance of maintaining robustness, training intensity, and chronic load, athletes and coaches can ensure that their hard work during the pre-season translates into success during the competitive season. A focus on velocity exposure and training at or above match intensity levels further elevates in-season performance.
In conclusion, the journey from pre-season preparation to in-season competition demands a seamless and strategic transition. By prioritizing robustness, maintaining training intensity, avoiding the pitfalls of reduced chronic load, and emphasizing velocity exposure, athletes can set themselves up for a successful competitive season. Remember, the goal is not just to perform well in a few matches but to consistently excel throughout the entirety of the long and demanding season. With the right approach, athletes can rise to the challenge and reach new heights of achievement on the field.
Training above match intensity:
Exposure to above 95% of max velocity -2 or -3 days from game day is key to preventing hamstring strains
Determinants of hamstring fascicle length
Jack McLean is the founder of Prepare Like a Pro. He loves coaching people so that they can reach their personal/professional goals and become the best that they can possibly be. He is currently the Strength & Rehab Coach of Melbourne Football Club and has worked as Strength & Conditioning Coach at Hawthorn Football Club. Jack is a Level 3 Australian Strength & Conditioning Association and Professional Coach and a Level 1 Australian Weightlifting Federation Coach.