CARLILE COACHES' FORUM
Produced, edited, and copyrighted by
Professor Brent S. Rushall, San Diego State University
Volume 1, Number 4: October 17, 1994
EMPHASES FOR TRAINING: PART III
3. Physical Focus
There are four categories of physical work that could occur at training.
- Competition-specific activity requires exactly the same mix of energy system use and skill performance with the same locus of movement, speed, and intensity as occurs in a contest. Training sets have been measured to determine if they meet those restrictions. For example in swimming, 6 x 200 m at 1:2 work:recovery ratio at intended 800 m race pace is an exact simulation of 800 m racing (Troup, 1990). This form of work dominates the specific phase of training. If done to excess over an extended period, these specific exercises could produce damage to the body and its systems resulting in an overtrained state. Depending upon the severity, recovery from the overtrained state may or may not contribute to elevated performances. Mild cases could result in improvements, chronic cases would not. In the latter case, the length of time for repair and recovery is so extensive that detraining results.
- Foundational activity involves exercises that are not competition-specific but train the basic physical capacities which occur in contests. These activities usually are pursued to full development in the basic preparatory phase of training and then maintained in subsequent training phases. Examples in swimming are anaerobic threshold, VO2max, and lactate tolerance sets.
- Recovery or restitution activities are designed to accelerate recovery from fatigue. They are purely aerobic in function and may or may not be in the activity class of the sport.
- Inappropriate activities do not contribute to sport performance improvement in any meaningful way. Some exercises might contribute to some foundational fitness state only to become counter-productive in a later training phase. Some exercises have no carry-over to the sport (e.g., slow weight training exercises in speed dominated sports). If done to excess, these activities cause detrimental general fatigue that inhibits improvement in appropriate exercises. If they are programmed over a long period of time they could produce maladaptation, the non-specific equivalent of overtraining. Depending upon its severity, recovery from the maladapted state will not contribute to peak performances. Mild cases could result in performance recovery, chronic cases do not. In the latter case, the length of time for repair and recovery is so extensive that detraining results. This form of training uses athlete resources that could have been exploited for specific sport improvements.
The usual basic determinants of physical training are expressed in terms of volume and intensity. For eventual competitive performances, physical training has to be at least of the same intensity as competitions. However, even that does not equate exactly to the demands of competitions. In the training phase before serious competitions, it is beneficial to do as much competition-specific work intensity as possible without producing an overtrained state. It is not possible to describe exact amounts of specific-intensity work that should be produced at practices. Rather, it is better to tax each athlete's capacity to the fullest without producing detrimental excessive fatigue (which usually results from working too hard with less than desirable forms of exercise).
To adapt workloads to suit individual athletes, it is best to evaluate the level of absolute performance and technique that is exhibited. Each athlete should perform as much training as possible at competition-specific intensities and form as a preparation for proximate competitions. To maximize this opportunity, it is best to program the following criteria.
- Establish a training segment that will stimulate the exact energy requirements and neuromuscular patterns of the intended competition.
- Have athletes attempt to complete the segment.
- Note when technique starts to be altered as fatigue is developed. This can occur even though performance levels remain consistent.
- When performance levels no longer can be maintained and technique has deteriorated, despite extra effort, participation in the activity should be terminated.
Following the above steps, will lead each athlete to incur a beneficial level of fatigue that will stimulate appropriate overcompensation that will produce a training effect. If activity persists beyond that level, fatigue will change from being beneficial to being detrimental because no characteristics of the performance will be competition-specific. It is with that excessive fatigue that maladaptation occurs and the value of the initial beneficial trials is lost.
These three emphases are orientations for practice behaviors that should be developed in athletes to produce the most efficient improvements through training. Since they are behaviors, they need to be taught, reinforced, and set as general behavioral expectations for participation in the sport. If they are not expected consistently then less than desirable training orientations will become the "norm," resulting in a reduction in the benefits of practice. In most human endeavors, performance improvements come from focused, correct, specific work. Sport training should be oriented similarly.
- Ashy, M. H., Landin, D. K., & Lee, A. M. (1988). Relationship of practice using correct technique to achievement in a motor skill. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 7, 115-120.
- Rushall, B. S. (1987). Caracteristicas conductuales de los campeones. In G. Perez (Ed.), Proceedings of the Jornades Internacionals de Medicina I Esport. Barcelona, Spain: INEF.
- Rushall, B. S. (1991). Imagery training in sports. Spring Valley CA: Sports Science Associates (Published in Australia by the Australian Coaching Council, Canberra, ACT).
- Rushall, B. S. (1992). Mental skills training for sports. Spring Valley CA: Sports Science Associates (Published in Australia by the Australian Coaching Council, Canberra, ACT).
- Rushall, B. S., & Pyke, F. S. (1990). Training for sports and fitness. Melbourne, Australia: Macmillan Educational.
- Troup, J. (1990). International Center for Aquatic Research annual - Studies by the International Center for Aquatic Research, 1989-90. Colorado Springs, CO: United States Swimming Press.
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