Conditioning for Team Sports: Monitoring Load

So getting back to this idea that there is a better way to condition our athletes, besides these white knuckling feel like you're getting punched in the face and kicked in the gut workouts. Is there a better way?

I say yes, absolutely.

The first thing that must be done is accepting the idea that not all workouts should be that hard. Embracing a monitoring system (HRM, external load, etc) or at a bare minimum using the RPE system is an absolute must. The RPE scale is a rating of perceived exertion, which is the idea of rating the difficulty of a workout/training session on a scale of 1-10. You as the coach should have an idea of how hard do you want this to feel for the athletes on a scale of 1 to 10.

That's really, really important because, if you are wanting to give your athletes a stimulation day, which is going to be a little bit lighter, then we will want to hit at a 6 or 7 on a scale of 10. This isn’t too tough and should feel pretty good. It’s enough to improve fitness while not interfering with the ability for the athlete to recover. If after the session they come back and they're all reporting that the session was a 9 or 9.5 then you've missed your mark. If you absolutely destroyed them, because you’ve missed your mark, you don’t understand the fitness of your athletes and this is going to cause problems.

Now, with that said, if you are getting reports back showing a 9 or 9.5 and you say, you know what, I've done this workout 1000 times, this is a 6/6.5 at most on that scale. Your response should not be to tell them they're out of shape, they didn't do what they had to do, or they’ve got to just pick it up.

Your response has to be okay, what am I going to do to adjust this program to meet the needs of my athletes, because right now, they're not in the kind of shape that I want them to be in. You need to get them to the point that this workout does feel like a six or a seven. A lot of coaches take this attitude of, well, you know, I haven't been playing the sport for 20 years, and I can still do this. So what, you are not your athletes, and your athletes aren’t you. It is your job as the coach to make sure they are a proper fit.

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