We often think about periodization and planning as a process of prediction. The longer I coach, the more I see we need to reframe periodization as a process of learning. The best coaches implement planning methods that allow them to learn. It took me too long to realize this distinction, but the sooner as coaches understand it, the sooner they can take their athletes to the next level.
Testing is a crucial part of the training and coaching process. On this episode of the GAINcast Vern walks through his approach to testing and shares his best practices, including a walk through of how he set up and implemented the testing program at the Chicago White Sox in the 1990s.
Every quarter we take a deep dive into the latest research in sports science. In this edition we look at coaching coaches, hamstring injuries, 100-meter race profiling, leadership, sports psychology, and more.
The best programs have a process to keep getting better. This starts with quality debriefing, but it continues with more in-depth training audits. The audit aims to use an outside perspective to thoroughly evaluate a program so you can make objective changes and modifications if necessary. On this week’s GAINcast we explain the various forms training audits can take, along with practical examples of audits in action.
Whether you are a national governing body reviewing your performance at the Olympic games or a high school coach just ending your season and preparing for next year. Here are few thoughts that may help you begin an effective performance review/debrief.
https://www.hmmrmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/debrief_meeting.jpg6301200Vern Gambettahttp://www.hmmrmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/HMMR-Full-Logo400.pngVern Gambetta2021-08-10 10:20:002021-08-11 12:19:12Thoughts on end of season review/debrief
Coaching is about meeting the needs of your athletes, and micro adjustments to meet special needs of individual athletes can make all the difference. What is described as the art of coaching is often just how we make decisions to individualize or not individualize a program. On this week’s episode Dan Noble and James Gardiner from GRIT Athletics Toronto explain some of the factors that go into their decision making, along with examples of individualization in practice.
https://www.hmmrmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/episode_253.jpg315600Martin Bingisserhttp://www.hmmrmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/HMMR-Full-Logo400.pngMartin Bingisser2021-07-26 13:52:362021-07-26 14:20:29HMMR Podcast Episode 253: Individualization (with Dan Noble and James Gardiner)
A hot topic in training is that of microdosing: how can we provide very small doses of stress to provide meaningful adaptations within a training session or program? That’s the theme on HMMR Media this month. But what if, instead of thinking of microdosing through the prism of training, we think about microdosing athlete testing? Would it be better to embed small tests into training regularly rather than doing a large slate of test every month or two?
The traditional approach to testing
A common, and often important, aspect of developing training programs is that of athlete testing. Typically, we use physical tests to understand where the athlete is currently at, along with how much the training we have programmed for them has allowed them to develop. The information gained from these tests can be very useful; we can identify key areas for improvement, and assess the effectiveness of the training so far.
In most set-ups, however, this testing happens relatively infrequently—perhaps on a three- or four-week basis, at the end of a training block, or at the end of a two- or three-month GPP/SPP period. Testing in this manner has to be infrequent, because it can be highly taxing on the athlete. Asking someone to perform a test—usually maximally—massively increases fatigue, along with potentially increasing the risk of injury. Athletes also understand the importance of testing; when I was competing, I became very invested in my flying 30m time; as a result, infrequent testing can be quite psychologically taxing for athletes, further increasing the need for recovery time.
This infrequent collection of data also hampers the use of said data in effective decision making. If we want to understand the fitness-fatigue status of an athlete, a physical test every three weeks doesn’t provide sufficient granularity; the athlete may have been fatigued for a long period prior to the testing taking place, and decisions around fatigue management could have been made sooner. Similarly, testing is often used to inform whether an athlete should be progressed or not; again, having weeks between tests means that the athlete may not be moved onwards quick enough, hampering improvements.
Embedded testing essentially refers to the use of various different tests as part of regular training. This could be in the warm-up as a method of understanding readiness to train, or in the session itself as a means of understanding fitness vs fatigue, as well as progressive adaptation. As a simple example, using sprint times during a session—something many coaches already do—is a form of embedded testing. Provided the conditions are more or less the same, then collecting, for example, flying 30-meter times within a session, and comparing across time, can be hugely informative:
Are the times in one session acutely worse than normal? Then the athlete is potentially fatigued/injured and could do with a rest;
Are the times continually tracking downwards over time? Then your training is likely being effective;
Are the times continually tracking upwards over time? Then fatigue is possibly accumulating, and/or your training might need to be reconsidered;
Are the times in one session acutely better than usual? Perhaps take a closer look at what you have done over the preceding days; could this form part of a future taper program at all?
Better testing = better decision making
By taking this approach, it’s clear to see how more frequent data collection can support your decision making. Similarly, around resistance training, changes in bar velocity may be indicative of fatigue, for example—collecting bar velocity data, especially when the adaptations you’re chasing require a high velocity of movement, can therefore inform your decisions in real-time. Vertical jump height might also be used, perhaps straight after a warm-up, to quantify readiness to train and again allow for real-time decision making to occur—hopefully providing better outcomes. For field-based sports, a submaximal running test—which could form part of a pre-training warm up—can be an effective may of monitoring aerobic fitness adaptations, and, if heart-rate measures are collected, may also give insights into fitness and fatigue.
Another example of this comes in the form of injury monitoring. From an epidemiological standpoint, there are three types of prevention. Primary prevention refers to taking steps to reduce the risk of injury; i.e., can we stop the athlete from becoming injured, before an injury occurs? Tertiary prevention refers to reducing the risk of reinjury, once injury has occurred. Both of these forms of prevention are the most common within sport, but there is a third type of prevention we can utilize—secondary prevention—which refers to detecting an injury early and preventing it from getting worse; i.e., we’re injured, but we don’t yet know it.
Embedded testing may assist in better understanding when we’re in the secondary prevention zone, as identified in a study published in 2020. Here, a group of soccer players underwent regular in-season hamstring strength testing in the first training session after a match. If players demonstrated a 14% or greater reduction in isometric hamstring strength in this test, they underwent a second test in the afternoon; if strength in this second test was still below the desired level, the player was referred for medical examination. If strength scores were within the normal bounds, the player undertook training as per usual. When compared to a control group, that did not utilize regular testing, the intervention group had five times fewer hamstring injuries.
Spread it out
Whilst we typically view microdosing through the lens of adding small amounts of work (i.e., training) to sessions, perhaps we should cast our net wider, to consider what other useful practices we can spread across sessions—as in the example of embedded testing. It’s clear that more regular data collection can inform more effective decision making, around aspects such as training monitoring, fitness, fatigue, and risk of injury. In contrast to more traditional testing regimes, embedded testing allows for quicker decisions to be made. It also reduces the impact of testing sessions on the training program, reducing physical and psychological stress on the athlete – appearing the be a win-win.
https://www.hmmrmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/stopwatch.jpg360639Craig Pickeringhttp://www.hmmrmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/HMMR-Full-Logo400.pngCraig Pickering2021-02-23 12:34:132021-02-23 12:34:18Microtesting: rethinking your testing strategy to improve your decision making
If you are like me, you spend more time each day with your athlete than your spouse. As they say, good communication is the bedrock of any successful marriage. Why is it then that in coaching, where we spend even more time with our athletes, communication is always an afterthought? We prioritize biomechanics and physiology and even psychology before we begin to focus on communication. Most coaching courses do not even spend one minute on the topic.
https://www.hmmrmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/rene_nadine.jpg419834René Sackhttp://www.hmmrmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/HMMR-Full-Logo400.pngRené Sack2020-12-29 06:55:352020-12-29 07:18:51Moving from conversation to communication
Sports around the world have been thrown into disarray due to the pandemic. The chaos brought some teams together and tore others apart. The Melbourne Storm seemed to get stronger as the year went on and just ended their 2020 campaign last month as National Rugby League champions. Performance director Lachlan Penfold and strength coach Dan di Pasqua join us on this week’s episode to look back at the difference makers for the team this year, as well as the evolving role of strength and sports science in the high performance model.