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Deck-Based Dryland and General Physical Preparedness

The main goal of deck-based dryland (or simply “dryland”) within this program is to increase the overall density of work performed and to increase general working capacities. Another term for this is GPP, or General Physical Preparedness. A high level of GPP will not only increase general fitness, but help facilitate recovery from swim and weight training and, in all, bring your ability to train in the water to a higher level. Increasing your GPP will lead to faster swimming!

Multiple qualities can be addressed with a well designed dryland program. Overall GPP can be enhanced through improvements in energy system efficiency, strength (general and core), power output, mobility, flexibility and balance. The goal of this program is not to lay out a cookie-cutter, year-long program, but to give an idea of how to set up dryland work, how to improve some of the basic qualities of GPP, and some general guidelines to evaluate dryland abilities and progression. Dryland workout examples are included, as is a full 7-week dryland taper program.

An individual dryland training session will include an active warm-up, the work sets of the day, and a cool-down including active and passive stretching. Most weeks will consist of two lifting workouts. Micro and meso cycles are less important in dryland (than in weight lifting) as GPP can be incorporated at the levels presented here throughout a season. Instead of back-off weeks, dryland training includes test weeks. General qualities can be tested with the exercises listed, and ideal test values are listed, as are specific test workouts. If there is an exercise that is difficult to reach specific test values for (especially the first, easiest test), it is suggested that this exercise (or a variant) be placed first in subsequent workouts. Front-loading is another term to describe this; placing the weakest link of dryland ability first in a workout so that it can be trained in a fresh state.

Other than the planned training session itself, you need very little to perform effective dryland work. A willingness to perform the work as indicated is obviously the most important thing to bring to any training session. For dryland training, additionally you will want comfortable clothing that is easy to move in, workout shoes, an exercise mat and/or towel, and a full water bottle. Effective dryland work can be accomplished with none of the above, but having most or all of these items will make the workout more comfortable. An index card with the full workout written on it is also easy to take to the pool and make notations as necessary. An additional item that you may want for dryland work is a medicine ball. Any med ball, bouncy or “dead”, from six pounds to ten pounds (depending on your strength levels) will work. A med ball can be used in conjunction with many exercises to make work more challenging and can be a great addition to improve core strength and power development. You can lift it, throw it, carry it, bend with it, twist with it, hold it close, hold it away, balance on it (cautiously), and use it to augment almost any movement pattern. If you have only one piece of exercise equipment for dryland or at home, it should be a medicine ball.

GPP, as defined above, is heightened with all that we do in dryland training. If we improve any of the following qualities, we improve our GPP. Increased dryland ability = improved GPP = faster swimming. Broad definitions of some general work qualities follow.

Energy System- The focus here is on using a large amount of our musculature to produce work. Basic work sets move to longer sets, and then to more dense work. Heavy breathing and a lot of sweat are the norm. Rest intervals vary from half to double the amount of time worked (2:1 to 1:2 work-to-rest ratio).

Strength- The focus here is on improving relative strength, or the ability to move one’s own body. Basic sets move to multiple, short sets, and gradually progress to longer sets with increased density and or intensity. Rest intervals can vary greatly here, but are generally short (1:1 or less).

Core- Improving static, dynamic, and rotational strength in the core of the body (the trunk, or top of the neck to bottom of the hips). Sets can vary, and core work should always be included liberally within a given workout. Rest intervals are very short (4:1 or less).

Power- Increasing the rate and magnitude of force production is the focus here. Short, multiple sets will gradually progress to longer, more dense multiple sets. Rest intervals are usually longer here to facilitate nervous system recovery (1:2 or greater).

Mobility- Increasing the body’s ability to move efficiently through a full range of motion is the focus here. This quality is improved with increased exercise ablility (as we move through a full range of motion in many planes), and with active and passive flexibility work included at the end of each workout.

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Building your Dryland Program – Week 1 Example

Dryland Training 1 – coinciding with Week 1 Faster Swimming Weekly Workouts

Weekly points:

  • Dryland workouts should follow swim practice or be separated by 4+ hours
  • Separate these workouts by at least one day
  • End all sets at indicated times – if you don’t reach a number goal don’t worry, just keep working towards these goals
  • Basic strength and energy-system work
  • If sore from dryland, include extra stretching at the end of any workout

 Workout #1 (Week 1)

Warm-up             2:00 Jumping Jacks or Jump Rope

1:00 Squat/Thrust

Stability 2 x 1:00

5:00 Active and Passive Stretching

Work Sets           3 x 1:30 Mountain Climbers

5 Push-ups every :30            continuous         1:00 Rest between sets

3 x 1:30 Squat/Thrust                        30 goal           1:00 Rest between sets

5 x 30 Squats                             continuous         :45 Rest between sets

Vary stance (narrow, medium, wide)

C-down               4 x 1:30 Core Rotation

Pick 3 exercises, switch @ :30 intervals

5:00 Active and Passive Stretching

Workout #2 (Week 1)

Warm-up             2:00 Jumping Jacks or Jump Rope

1:00 Mountain Climbers

Stability 2 x 1:00

5:00 Active and Passive Stretching

Work Sets           3 x 1:30 Squat/Thrust                        30 goal           1:00 Rest between sets

4 x 1:00 Walkout Push-ups            goal=effort :45 Rest

2 Push-ups per walkout

2:00 Push-ups                              goal=effort no Rest

C-down               4 x 1:30 Core Rotation

Pick 3 exercises, switch @ :30 intervals

5:00 Active and Passive Stretching

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Building your Dryland Program – Mid Season Example

Weekly points:

  • Dryland workouts should follow swim practice or be separated by 4+ hours
  • Separate these workouts by at least one day
  • End all sets at indicated times – if you don’t reach a number goal don’t worry, just keep working towards these goals
  • Basic strength and energy-system work
  • If sore from dryland, include extra stretching at the end of any workout

 Workout #1 (Week 27)

Warm-up             2:00 Jumping Jacks or Jump Rope

1:00 SQUAT/THRUST

2 x 1:00 Stability

5:00 Active and Passive Stretching

Work Sets           3 x 1:30 Mountain Climbers

5 Push-ups every :30            continuous         1:00 Rest between sets

3 x 1:30 SQUAT/THRUST                     30 goal           1:00 Rest between sets

5 x 30 Squats                             continuous         :45 Rest between sets

Vary stance (narrow, medium, wide)

C-down               4 x 1:30 Core Rotation

Pick 3 exercises, switch @ :30 intervals

5:00 Active and Passive Stretching

 

Workout #2 (Week 27)

Warm-up             2:00 Jumping Jacks or Jump Rope

1:00 Mountain Climbers

2 x 1:30 Stability w/switches

5:00 Active and Passive Stretching

Work Sets           3 x 1:30 SQUAT/THRUST                     30 goal           1:00 Rest between sets

4 x 1:00 Walkout Push-ups            goal=effort :45 Rest

2 Push-ups per walkout

2:00 Push-ups                              goal=effort no Rest

C-down               4 x 1:30 Stability w/switches

5:00 Active and Passive Stretching

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Building your Dryland Program – Pre-Taper Dryland Test Set Example

Weekly points:

  • Dryland workouts should follow swim practice or be separated by 4+ hours
  • Separate the test workout from other workouts by at least two days
  • End all sets at indicated times – if you don’t reach a number goal don’t worry, just keep working towards these goals
  • Use results from these tests to work on any glaring weak points, especially as we are now in the taper phase!
  • If sore from dryland, include extra stretching at the end of any workout
  • TEST WEEK – do your best and see where you’re at in your training!!

Workout #1- TEST (Week 18)

Warm-up    3 x 1:00 Stability

1:00 Overhead Squats

2:00 Jumping Jacks or Jump Rope

Test Sets 

5 x 1:00 Squat/Thrust    30 per goal  :30 Rest between

2:30 Stability                                                  no Rest

3 x 1:30 Squat/Thrust/Push-up/Jump   20 per goal  3:00 Rest between

3:00 Push-Ups      75 goal     Rest as needed

Rotate/Twist/Sit-up Ladder    12 goal    no Rest

Cool-down    5 x 1:00 Core Rotations

Pick 3 exercises, switch @ :20 intervals

5 min Active Stretching

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Seasonal Considerations for Each Week and Workout

There are focus points and workout goals to consider listed before each week’s outline in the Faster Swimming seasonal plan. Fly kicking, breathing expectations, racing and race pace, total yardage with the % of kicking, and racing are all included, along with paddle sets, underwater kicking, turn considerations, and much, much more.  The taper part of the season totals 7 weeks. Please remember that tapering is not simply resting, but resting is a part of tapering. Tapering is a detailed process and your swimmers must be in great aerobic conditioning before starting. All workouts and sets can be adjusted for any swimmer based on their abilities mentally and physically in any part of the seasonal plan. When adjusting workouts and sets remember to complete the specific training outlined for each day and add/subtract/modify yardage and total set volume to reach your goals.

The following are some of the considerations that go into the Faster Swimming seasonal plan for each week and each workout:

Basic Workout

Yardage is a guideline that should be adjusted based on the abilities of your training groups. We will split the practices into groups later in the program by distance, mid-distance and sprint. Variable speed swimming distances, Variable speed effort, Strokes up (Tarzan) and down (easy), Tarzan, Tarzan to easy, over speed and race pace are sets that are essential to your training routine and will be detailed in future articles. Recovery sets and recovery workouts feel like useless swimming to many coaches but are essential to strength and speed. Starts, turns, relay starts, reaction drills and finishes are all outlined into the workouts to ensure that you remember to include and spend more time on these important aspects.

Legs 

Kicking is detailed and an essential part of speed. The hardest part is coaching the swimmers to take kicking seriously. Yardage, maximum distances, variable speed distances, variable speed effort, broken sprint kicks, all-out sprint kicks and yardage of easy kicking are all spelled out.

Basic Format

As described above the workouts are designed alternating upper and lower body work either by set or within each set.

Weight Lifting, Dryland, heart rate sets, test sets, sprint sets and race pace distances are all fully detailed and will also be explained further in upcoming articles.

Training at Race Pace/Goal Speed

Race Pace isn’t sprinting to exhaustion but creating the speed that will be needed to achieve goal times for each event. The main emphasis of Faster Swimming is if you train at slow speeds you will compete at slow speeds.

If you train 500’s and you are a 50 freestyler you are not maximizing your potential.

If you train long fly sets with bad mechanics and timing you can’t expect that to change when you are trying to sprint!

Start the season with enough rest at each desired distance to achieve race pace (goal speed) and as the season continues lessen the rest interval and achieve the same result. For example, 8 x 25 on :45 holding race pace at the beginning of the season. As the season progresses 8 x 25 on :30 holding race pace. Continue to shorten send off as taper progresses finally holding race pace for 4 x 25 on :15.  This same concept is applied to IM and long freestyle swims. This doesn’t have to be the main set but just the last 10 minutes of a workout. Please remember to do race pace during the aerobic phase of the season and during holiday training. If your swimmers are tired on a given day and you need to do race pace then you must set send off that help swimmers achieve race pace. Race pace develops muscle memory and helps create speed and power.

Let’s take the 100 free for our example and say your goal is to swim a 48.00 in the 100. In order to achieve this swim you must create and instill muscle memory at this speed. You will need to maintain 12.00 while swimming 25’s and 24.00 speed while doing 50’s. You can have your swimmers either hold pace to a hand  touch or to a flip turn(feet).  If you want the swimmer to hold race pace based on their race strategy then build that into your sets. For example, first 25 hold 11.5 from the block to the feet. Middle 50 hold 24.0 to the feet and the last 25 hold 12.5 to the touch. You can eventually work up to 75’s and broken 100’s (breaking them at different distances) and finally a 100 from the block before you actually swim your big race. This will give your swimmer the confidence needed for the big race.

You will do more race pace swimming as the taper progresses if you follow the workouts laid out in the 23 week training manual.  Recovery and over-speed sets are equally important and must be incorporated with your race pace work.  Remember that your dryland and lifting program is important and must coincide with this type of training.  Jumping and reaction time are extremely important and should be included in all your workouts.  Training with speed and power in the water, as well as dryland, will enhance everything you are trying to achieve in your program.

Dryland and weight training should incorporate the same basic principal as your swim training: Training intensity is directly proportional to your competitive results. For swim training, intensity is based on goal speed to improve sport performance specifically.  For weight training, intensity is based on percentage of max effort and speed to improve strength, speed, and power generally.  For dryland, intensity is based on work density (movements per time) to improve work capacity, speed and power endurance generally.  Quality (intensity) is important in your dryland and lifting as well as in the pool to improve your performances generally and specifically. And just as with swimming, this quality of training should be planned for and carried out over the course of your season(s) to support faster swimming.

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3 Items to Include in Daily Workouts

Today we would like to discuss three very important items that all coaches should include in their daily if not at least weekly workouts

Let’s talk about Tarzan

The first item I would like to talk about is Tarzan.  Tarzan is used for speed purposes. The proper body position for Tarzan is with the head and mouth out of the water. Keeping hips in line with the shoulders with a controlled fast kick. Tarzan is used for developing arm and leg speed. Leg speed drives the arms so begin by emphasizing the kick.  The arm stroke needs to be shorter and faster than the normal freestyle stroke with emphasis on equal shoulder rotation. There are many variations of Tarzan to train. Two of the main drills to use are just quality Tarzan sprinting and Tarzan to easy as indicated on the outline.  “Tarzan to easy” is where the swimmer will work on increasing arm speed until they are unable then drop their head and finish easy to the wall.  When the athlete is broken down this will be very hard to do but as the swimmer recovers he or she will be able to increase arm speed for longer distances of 25’s or 50’s.

YouTube videos are here; or Facebook can be found here.

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/78/

I’d like to show a few different drills of Tarzan. First I am having my swimmer do a 25 of Tarzan where he is holding a constant rate of speed, keeping his head out of the water, shoulders square with hips in line and a small fast kick.  The next drill is 5 Tarzan strokes sprint up followed by 2 freestyle strokes down easy. The swimmer will just drop his head on the recovery strokes. Make sure the swimmers count their strokes to ensure that they start each new cycle of 5 up 2 down with the opposite arm. This will help ensure equal rotation of shoulders and help the swimmers work with both arms to start swimming.  This will translate to their breakout strokes also. Please vary this drill as desired for example 7 up sprint tarzan strokes then 4 easy strokes, etc.. We are always trying to prime the fast twitch muscles by using Tarzan. We do a lot of Tarzan during taper as well as throughout the season. It is easy to train your fast twitch muscle fibers to move at one speed with long sets, making it more difficult to retrain muscle fiber later. Always throw in some tarzan or speed work into your workouts. The last 25 of the video is Tarzan where the swimmer is working on increasing arm speed throughout, working on equal shoulder rotation as well as proper mechanics. A variation of this is on the Faster Swimming 23 week outline is called Tarzan to easy. The only difference is that I want the swimmers to start off at a faster pace and when they can no longer increase arm speed they will drop their head and finish the set distance easy.

Let’s talk about Variable Speed

We all know that racing is the drive to win close races to recover from mistakes and overtake your competition at all costs. Some swimmers have that desire and others we must try to teach. This is why adding Speed work should be very important to us as coaches. Each swimmer needs the ability to start and stop speed with their upper and lower body and I call this Variable Speed. Training an athlete and enhancing his or her ability to change speed at any time of the race is key to teaching and giving the swimmer confidence that they can race. It is a big part of our designed workouts throughout the season. You will need to change the variable speed distances and intensities as outlined weekly. Variable speed work in sets is difficult for the swimmer because it spikes heart rates when a swimmer would normally train at one speed.

For example:

A basic 8 x 200 swim set descend by 2 on 3:00 can be adjusted with variable speed work by 100. For example on the first 2 x 200’s have the swimmers work at 70% on the first 100 and 80% on the second. Descending the 200’s by adjusting the variable speed effort.  Variable speed work can be similar to Negative split as I just described in this set. The hard part is getting them to understand the actual percentage of intensities and still descend the 200’s. You can mix it up by making the swimmers go out in the first 100 @ 95% and the second 100 back in a controlled 90% by either giving them their splits, doing open turns or breaking the 200 at the 100 for a short rest interval.  This will make their set more difficult and train their muscle fibers at variable speeds.  You don’t want to get in the habit of training your swimmers at one pace thus making it harder to get into sprint work later in the practice or season.

Using Heart Rate

I am using the measurement of heart rate in this set to get a basic feel of how my swimmers are feeling today. There are a lot of factors that affect heart rate so this is just a guideline. I have created a set where the swimmer must maximize heart rate and created the speed work I wanted to have in today’s workout. This set was given a week after one championship meet and week before another. Prior to this workout they had two hard weight and dryland workouts and one longer aerobic swim practice. They were sore and a bit tired as they should have been.

This set is all freestyle starting with 2 x 100’s on a 1:30 send off.

The first 1:00 holding a minute pace and descending the 2nd 100 holding a :56. They are to take their heart rate immediately after the 2nd 100 for a starting point. They are taking their heart rate for 10 seconds. I want them to take their heart rate again after+/- 45 seconds to see how fast they recover. Once the heart rate drops below 20 (for :10 seconds) they will finish the next part of the set which is, 50 sprint kick followed by 2 x 25 sprint Tarzan with :20 seconds rest  then a 100 recovery swim.

They will repeat the same basic pattern two more times.

Second time starting off with 2 x 50 on a :35 second send off just making the send off immediately followed by a 100 free holding a :54 or faster again taking the heart rate immediately after the swim. Their heart rate should be above 30 or elevated from the last time taken. Once the heart rate drops below 20 finishing the set with a 50 sprint kick and 2 x 25’s sprint tarzan with :20 rest and a 100 recovery swim. If their heart rate doesn’t drop you can assume that they need more rest or they are completely out of shape.  This is very individual and knowing your swimmer will help you answer that question.  If their heart rate doesn’t drop below 20 for a couple of minutes then just have them finish the set or warm down, your call.

Third time thru they will begin with 4 x 25’s @ 100 Race Pace on a :20 second send off. Each swimmer should have an understanding of the effort needed to maximize their heart rate on this set. Then finish the set once heart rate drops with 50 sprint kick and 2 x 25’s tarzan then a 100 recovery swim.

Tarzan, Variable Speed and Heart Rate sets are some of the important items included in the Faster Swimming program.  We discussed Race Pace training in the last Journal.  If you have any questions please email [email protected] or [email protected]

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Breaststroke Continues to Change!

I think as long as we keep thinking about the best ways to reduce drag with regards to each swimmers body type this stroke will continue to morph.  As you all know there is a lot of motion in the breaststroke that creates drag and this reduction in drag will advance your swimmers the quickest in the short term.

We also need to consider how to create and maintain momentum with the recovery of the stroke and kick. Body position is extremely important and streamlined swimming is essential to achieve as much as possible.

Here are a few comments from other coaches and athletes in the sport taken from the web to help you think about how to teach and advance this stroke.  Please feel free to comment on certain thoughts or provide new ones.

Questions and Comments from the web:

How wide should your hands go on the outsweep of the stroke? The outsweep is a function of strength and speed and a rough idea is about the same as your fly pull.

Lift propulsion is,for practical purposes,sculling. You use your hands like propellers. It’s called lift as the force is similar to what lifts an airplane wing. There is a heated debate as to which is more important in swimming. I suspect you are generating more force with your new pull than you think. Try just doing the pull and see. If you are doing the heart shaped pull remember to accelerate through the pull so that the insweep is the strongest part.

Regarding lift, Bernoulles Principle is that as a fluid flows faster it’s pressure decreases. An airplane wing is curved on top so the air has to travel further in the same time on top relative to underneath. Since it is moving faster the pressure is lower so the wing rises. Moving a hand through the water at an angle can cause the water on the back of the hand to move faster than over the palm so the hand will lift. The actual situation for a swimmer is much more complicated.

I consider the entire pulling phase of the stroke as triphasic, i.e. outsweep, insweep and recovery. I would characterize the outsweep as a setup for the more propulsive insweep phase, emphasizing a more constant velocity through the outsweep. Consider the swimmer moving through sheets of parallel planes of water: During the outsweep, the arms remain straight and confined to a plane near the surface of the water (six to 10 inches). At the widest part of the stroke (which depends on individual strength) the insweep begins to take form, characterized by increased velocity through to the recovery phase.

The insweep takes form as the inside edge of the arms (which I refer to as the blade-thumb-side) begins to take the lead. The edge extends from the fingertips to the elbow. Consider the edge to cut through the series of parallel planes with the elbows maintaining their position within the original plane. The blade therefore cuts through these planes much like a propeller, creating resistance and propulsion on the inside of the arm. Through the completion of the insweep, the swimmer finds the hands coming toward each other with the elbows trailing and ending closely together. The position of the hands at this point should be above the level of the elbows as the swimmer begins the recovery phase. Through the insweep phase the shoulders and back lift while driving forward (this is stressed so as not to create too much upward motion-thereby sacrificing forward movement). Also during this phase, the elbows remain fairly close to their original planar position.

Reduction of drag should characterize the recovery to the extent that the hands are held close together with the elbows also being close together through the forward extension. Whether or not this phase needs to occur above the surface or below the surface is not as important as emphasizing that the hands should not be lifted out of the water into the recovery phase. More important is that at the beginning of the recovery phase, the hands are at a position slightly higher than the elbows, and that recovery occurs straight forward as opposed to downward. As the arms recover, the head is maintained in a position in line with the back and settles between the arms ending the stroke cycle in a streamlined position.

Among the factors that are important to the breaststroke kick is a concentrated effort on heel speed, especially during the recovery phase. The biggest mistake breaststroke swimmers make in kicking is the manner in which they train. Very little effort is placed on the recovery phase of the kick-specifically the acceleration of the heels during recovery. The heels should be drawn up toward the hips with maximum speed and the toes are turned outward to initiate the propulsive phase. The heels should continue to be the leaders and with the heels in a position outside of the knees, propulsion begins. The heels take an elliptical path as the legs are extended-pressure maintained on the bottom of the feet. At full extension the heels come together and the completion of the kick occurs as the toes are extended to maximize the streamlined position.

In my mind, there are certain components of the stroke where timing can be evaluated and corrected. In the pull, I look to the velocity characteristics of the outsweep and insweep. I look to see that there is a relative constant velocity through the outsweep with an increase in velocity through the insweep into the recovery. During the kick and the initiation of the heel recovery, I suggest that the swimmer feel the recovery begin through the outsweep so that as the recovery phase begins, the propulsive phase of the kick occurs nearly simultaneously. In all, there should be a sense that during the propulsive phase of the arm stroke the recovery (and hence the drag phase) of the heels is occurring and vice versa.

Lastly, I look for the lift of shoulders and back to occur through the insweep phase of the stroke with the head staying in-line with the back.

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More on Taper with Video Help!

Taper time is a well thought out process of preparing your swimmers for championships.  Taper means QUALITY work and QUALITY recovery just to begin.   Race Pace, Variable Speed swimming and kicking, Understanding the process of resting legs, etc are huge components of this 7 week preparation. The outlines will spell out exactly what distances to swim and kick, effort level and rest intervals needed for each set. During taper an athlete is able to increase and maintain aerobic conditioning. This is the time of the year to emphasize exact race pace speed needed for the big swim.

I have included a few videos to help you through the process. Heart rate is a great tool to establish what your swimmer needs. Tarzan is used to spark the nervous system and work the fast twitch muscles of the whole body as well as Overspeed work.

This process and all information is spelled out on the weekly outlines included in the Faster Swimming, 23 and 14 week books. The 23 and 14 week book include the exact swim and dryland workouts throughout the taper process.

To view the videos below, please copy and paste the link into your browser.

Heart Rate Set Explanation

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/146/

Heart Rate Set Swimming

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/147/

Tarzan

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/78/

Overspeed with cords

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/111/

Pulling Cords

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/112/

Overspeed Drag and Pull

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/237/

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Successful Sport Task Management Part 1: Follow Up to 10 Principles of Athletic Success

This is a follow up to an article we posted on Facebook in January 2012. The article was titled “The 10 Principles of Athletic Success.” If you have questions, please know that we answer every email and phone call.

For the next 3 email newsletters, we’ll be discussing Successful Sports Task Management.

Successful task management for a sports season has many, many facets and in explaining my thoughts I will do my best to move from general to specific throughout this series.  Taking a top-down approach helps to account for the variables involved and allows the day-to-day focus to remain on what is happening in the present; with a solid, principle-based structure that we have built on through experience (the past); and some degree of comfort we are heading in the right direction (toward the future).  This top-down approach toward planning allows the freedom to focus on the here-and-now aspects of task management.

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FOLLOW UP:

These principals function well as a base for decision making and problem-solving and lead us directly to our Purpose.  We do our best to keep things simple and concise in order to focus on what matters to our teams.

Our Team purpose is to Learn, to Have Fun, and to Compete.  We want all of our athletes learning not only sports skills to an ever higher degree but also to learn how to have fun and compete at the same time; how to train and have fun at the same time; how to balance their energies and commitments to make it all work.  We emphasize that learning is a life-long process and that there is always more to know and experience.

Having fun can be tough during an exhausting training set or a critical competition – and so goes hand-in-hand with learning.  We do what we can to make training and competition more fun than anxiety-producing.  This focus on fun is especially important at the developmental stages of sport and carries over into high-level performance far more than many perceive.  Learning the skills & rules of the sport should be made as fun as possible as well – not always an easy task for the coach!

Competing is where the rubber meets the road in sport – competitions allow us to see where our preparations have led us.  We delineate competitions into 3 categories: Developmental, Important, and Critical.  Developmental competitions are to get an indicator of where we are in our training, to practice at competing, and perhaps to try a new technique, strategy or tactic that we have been working on in practice.  Most developing/younger athletes have mainly developmental competitions.  Important competitions allow us to compete at a higher level, many times with a little added rest to get a true picture of our skills and conditioning.  Important competitions might include a mid-season Invite, a league championship or perhaps the last meet of the season for the developing athlete.  Critical competitions allow full display of all of the athlete’s capabilities and allow for top-level performances.  We peak for critical competitions, dropping back on volume to assure full system recovery and sports performances, and this peaking phase comprises a significant portion of the end-season for the higher level athlete.  Critical competitions include meets that qualify on to the next level, whether through place or on time.  And we strive not to lose sight in all of the above – competitions should always include both learning and fun at some level for the athlete to find continued success.

Our purpose for our athletes individually is simply: Training, Eating, and Sleeping.  This covers our main bases of both efforts expended and the regeneration required to move on to the next level.  The team purposes above are incorporated into the athlete’s training, which the athlete should strive to adhere to, and then also incorporate the 10 Principles as a base to work from individually at training.  More specific training task management is looked at in Part 4 of this series.  Eating can be an unnecessarily complex issue that we will address in Part 3 of this series, and Sleeping we will address next in Part 2.

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Successful Sport Task Management Part 2: Regeneration and Sleep

We look at regeneration as the ability to recover from a given session, training phase or season and then be ready to move on to the next level.  Regenerative methods can include a wide variety of specific measures (sauna, massage, Epsom salt bath, etc) and for our purpose of moving from general to specific, we will focus on the two main influences on Regeneration – sleep and nutrition (nutrition in Part 3).

Sleep is an often overlooked performance requirement.  And yes, quality sleep is a requirement for improving performance levels.  Sound sleep promotes optimal hormone production and release as well as critical downtime for both the athlete’s body and mind.  These factors that occur during sleep (not during “rest”) allow for full use of the nutrition and training efforts accomplished by the athlete, which fosters higher-level recovery (regeneration!).

Athletes simply must get enough quality sleep to foster solid regeneration.  We recommend a total of 8 plus hours per night and upward of 60 hours per week of quality sleep.  If 8 hours plus per night is not possible and the athlete is not achieving 60 plus hours of sleep per night – we strongly recommend taking daytime naps to cover the deficit.

We wish not only to get enough sleep but to optimize our sleep in order to be fully recovered and ready to train to a higher level.  The first step in this process is to make it dark.  Quality sleep is best accomplished in total, or near-total, darkness.  Even very low-level light stimulus can cause unwanted waking and disrupt productive sleep.  We, therefore, recommend turning off or making dark all ambient light sources – clocks, phones, radios, TV’s, hallway lights, etc.  If this is not possible or only partially so, we recommend using a sleep mask to sleep in, which will block out almost all of the light in your bedroom.

Quality sleep also involves a quiet environment.  Again, this necessitates turning off phones, computers, TV’s, etc to make your sleep environment as quiet as possible.  White noise might be OK, and this is certainly an individual choice that should be made through experimentation, whether the white noise is coming from a fan, a humidifier/de-humidifier, or a “white-noise” machine.  Another consideration for turning off all unused electronics at night would be the RFI/EMI (radio frequency interference/electromagnetic interference) noise pollution that many modern electronics emit.  If loud and/or sudden noises cannot be kept to a minimum, we recommend using ear plugs (rather than headphones which will come off during sleep far easier) which will block out the majority of noises.

Sleep consistency involves maintaining consistent sleep and wake cycles.  Our bodies function on a Circadian rhythm which has evolved over time from the rising and the setting of the sun.  Athletes should do their best to get to bed early in the evenings as any sleep prior to midnight will help establish a more natural (in-line with the sun) sleep/wake cycle.  Optimal hormone production can also be assisted by an established, regular sleep and wake pattern.

Establishing a nightly routine prior to sleep as well as a morning routine upon waking can influence your quality of sleep as well as your general health and readiness for the day (and training and necessary nutrition) ahead.  30 minutes prior to sleep we recommend reducing all intense visual stimulation (TV, computer, video games, etc) which allows your visual cortex to wind down for the day.  Helpful habits that could be included in this 30 min period would be anything to get ready for the following day (training, breakfast/lunch/snacks ready, school/work things gathered) as well as any healthy habits such as brushing teeth, showering, and making sure that there is water by the bed.  This nightly routine should include any other helpful extras as well – Epsom salt bath, warm milk, meditation – simply be sure to use whatever extra habits help you get the quality sleep required for improved regeneration!