A few weeks ago I attended a seminar by Tim Gabbett on chronic loads and how to build tolerance in your players competing at a high level.
It was amazing listening to this guy talk, everything was laid out really well and it was just powerpoint presentations from 9am – 5pm.
I thought I would have nodded off at some stage but I was gripped the whole time. The surprising thing was that when he broke it down it was very simple, monitor your players, rather than just guessing how they feel or think they are.
I have started implementing this process with the Club NI players I work with. After each session I take their Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE).
I use the Borg Scale from 1-10, 1 being really easy and 10 being the hardest; you can find these on the internet and print it out to use with your own teams or even yourself.
The players then tell me how hard or easy the felt the session was by choosing a number on the scale.
Once I have collected all the data I can work out how hard I thought the session was going to be and how easy or tough the players found it.
From here I can periodise my training, I work them for four weeks each week increasing the intensity, time or load followed by a less intense deloading week.
When I start my next cycle after the deloading week I normally start the players on a higher intensity from the first week of the last cycle.
For example if my new cycle starts on week six I may start the players on the same intensity as week two or three, depending on how much fitter or how well they reacted to the last cycle of training.
This may seem very complex but it’s really simple. It takes me five minutes to get their RPE scores in the dressing room after each training session and I can go home and work on the data.
Most of the time if I find I’m on track then I don’t need to do anything until the next session.
This really is another way of tracking progress and breaking down your goals into smaller parts.
In this case I use four/five week cycles and start the players on the next cycle in a more advanced work load. You can do the same with your own or your team’s training.
Just set yourself your goal, for example if you want to lift X amount of weight by a certain stage or you want your team to peak and be able to play a lot of matches in a short space of time without getting injured, then gradually build up their load and monitor how you or each player feels.
By doing this you are steadily building your tolerance towards reaching that maximum load without increasing the risk of injury.
You can even plan a big training week as long as you are prepared for it, and you can always follow with this up with a deloading week or sessions.
The take-home message just cemented what I thought about training.
Build your training load and tolerance over time, increase your training slightly each session, and always give yourself a deloading regeneration session/week when you need it.
Listen to your body, ask it questions and write down the answers.