Sports Science Monthly – August 2016


Welcome back to the fourth installment of Sports Science Monthly. This month’s edition will cover one of my favorite topics: sleep. But it will also spread out to discuss recovery, the extra-time period in soccer, how to measure strength, whether sex reduces performance, circadian rhythms, and the use of ketones as a performance enhancing agent. The first overview will be free for everyone, but to read the complete August edition you must be a HMMR Plus Member. HMMR Plus is a new offering we have that gives users access to exclusive content like our article archive, webinars, online meet ups, and of course Sports Science Monthly. Therefore sign up now to gain access to Sports Science Monthly and more. To see what Sports Science Monthly is about, our April and May editions are available for free.

This Month’s Topics

Faster Players Perceive Higher Training Loads

Quick Summary: Faster athletes perceived higher workloads and suffer greater performance decrements compared to slower athletes during heavy training loads.

I’m going to kick-start this month’s round up with a study that, if correct, could have big implications for the implementation of training programmes in team sports. Titled “Faster Futsal Players Perceive Higher Training Loads and Present Greater Decreases in Sprinting Speed During the Preseason“, it follows a group of Brazilian Futsal players during a nine-week pre-season training block. The players underwent a number of fitness tests both before and after the pre-season training, including a number of vertical jumps and sprint tests. Session Rating of Perceived Exertion (sRPE) was also monitored. Overall, the players performed worse in the fitness tests after the pre-season training than beforehand, indicating that they were highly fatigued. This practice probably isn’t that unusual, and as the players recovered they would probably have seen performance improvements. So far, so normal. But what was interesting was the fact that players with the fastest 10m and 20m sprint times at baseline had higher sRPE scores – that is, they perceived training to be much harder, at least in the initial two weeks. They also saw a larger performance decrement in the fitness tests than those with the slower baseline sprint scores.

Players with the fastest 10m and 20m sprint times perceived training to be much harder. Share on X

This is important because it shows how crucial individualised training loads are. It also raises the possibility that perhaps fitness testing can be used to determine these optimal training loads. I find this paper interesting as well because, in my experience of sports outside of athletics, I have personally struggled with overall training volume. When I was doing bobsleigh, I really struggled with the in-season demands of the sport, which essentially follow the following format:

  • Day 1 – Travel
  • Day 2 – 2-man Training
  • Day 3 – 4-man Training
  • Day 4 – 4-Man Training
  • Day 5 – Rest
  • Day 6 – 2-man Competition
  • Day 7 – 4-man Competition

This weekly programme led to really high levels of fatigue for me, such that I actually did very little other training. Some of the more “old-school” coaches involved in bobsleigh accused me of being weak (in fact, I think the actual language they used was a bit more colourful than that); because of this, I’ve long suspected that faster athletes require more recovery than slower athlete – something which Charlie Francis always used to state he had found anecdotally. Adding another anecdote, I think you can split bobsleigh athletes into “speed” athletes, and “power” athletes, and speed athletes are usually those that perceive much higher levels of in-season fatigue. My former roommate, a sub-10 100-meter runner, used to sleep in excess of 14 hours a day during the season, and avoid all other training sessions. Comparatively, members of the team who likely couldn’t break 12 seconds for 100m could handle the work load just fine, along with additional training sessions.

What I might have done there, however, is try to get the findings of this study to fit my personal beliefs, which can be a dangerous practice! Nevertheless, I do believe that faster athletes probably find training overall more fatiguing than slower athletes, at least in team sports – and coaches should be aware of this, and create individualised programmes to at least reduce, or even overcome, this effect.

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1 reply
  1. ciaran keogh
    ciaran keogh says:

    Good paper but should we be surprised? Numerous studies have noted increased markers of fatigue in those with more fast twitch muscle fibres, which of course are likely to be faster over 10 -20 metres. Not only could fitness testing help identify optimal training load but also how we best achieve it. 3 sets of 5 will induce a different training effect than 5 sets of 3 depending on fibre/motor type.


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