Are you a Coach and ever wondered: ‘Why are my players getting injured or not performing as they should be after Pre-Season?” If so, keep reading…
There is a fine line between Overreaching and Overtraining. We’ve all been there, stood on the field in front of our athletes having planned our Pre-Season sessions and very much looking forward to ‘kick starting’ them back into the season. Soon, the moans and groans start coming in thick and fast from the players. We then start to wonder; is this too much exposure at higher levels of intensity? Will my phase of Functional Overreaching work? Do I have 100% confidence in my Periodized plan?
With the correct advice and posing a few subject areas for you to ponder over, creating functional pre season session plans are right at your fingertips.
Keep reading and we'll walk you through some ideas and the reasons why you should implement functional overreaching into your pre season session plans. Ready? Let's dive in.
What levels and intensities should you be subjecting and sustaining your athletes to in pre-season?
Everyone loves pre-season, even the ‘majority’ of your athletes, without them making this known to you as Coach of course. This is a phase of training whereby team bonds, a sense of belonging and team cohesion is made. For individual sports, this is where you can shake off the demons from last season, start a fresh and look forward to creating new bonds with fellow team members and coaches.
Pre-season should include a period of overreaching for no longer than 2 weeks whereby athletes are subjected to higher levels of intensity designed so that the athletes will be unable to recover fully from the previous session leading into the next.
In the short term this leads to performance decrements, but following a period of rest, the athlete recovers and performs better. It’s important to understand that 2 weeks of overreaching is specific in the sense that it is prescribed only a few times during the year-long training cycle.
Functional Overreaching is a necessary part of your pre season training. This is the ideal time to subject your athletes to this, as there is no immediate performance improvements needed therefore giving them the time for their performance improvements to follow after their period of rest.
Non-Functional Overreaching is where there are no evidential performance improvements after a planned overreaching phase. This can be brought about due to athletes being subjected to too higher volumes of training in the first phase (2-4days), which mixed in with too little recovery, the athletes move into the second phase (another 2-4day period). If the athletes are then subjected to too higher volumes of training here, there will be no adaptation shown.
Due to the greater demands asked of the athletes in the first phase, this did not allow adequate time for adaptation, which resulted in the athletes not recovering to a baseline before moving into the second phase.
A decrease in overall performance would then be demonstrated following a total rest from both phases. Therefore indicating that the 2 week overreaching phase asked too much of the athletes, it did not allow adequate time for adaptation and ultimately was therefore no benefit to bringing about higher levels of performance.
Overreaching vs Overtraining
Being able to correctly measure and balance Overreaching in training is key for a Coach. Knowing the difference between Overreaching and Overtraining is the difference between eliciting higher levels of performance or being without several of your key athletes for periods of weeks or even months due to Overtraining Syndrome (OTS). It is evident that more experienced athletes will be able to withstand higher levels of volume and intensities than in novice athletes. The more experienced athlete will be able to cope and perform at higher workloads and deal with fatigue more efficiently than a novice athlete.
Last, but certainly not least, try introducing a Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale into your sessions. This can either be a number scale of the use of ‘hard’, ‘very hard’ and ‘easy’. By doing this, you will gain sufficient feedback from your athletes which in turn will help you to manipulate your planning cycle in order for you to stay on track and achieve your goals from your session plans.
Now you’re ready to start planning a well-balanced pre-season training cycle. Remember, that as a Coach subjecting your athletes to training without adequate recovery can lead to reduced performance, illness and interrupted training. A key point to remember is if short-term performance decrements are only ‘rewarded’ with more work, this will only bring about a gradual decline which may even lead to OTS and the loss of an athlete for months.
Spending the time to have a quick chat with your athlete(s) and gaining vital feedback on the training could save you hours of trouble later in the season.
You're probably already going through some ideas in your head, right? Tell me how you plan to create your own workout in the comments. I'd love to help out!..