Training Smart for Success:
Both Gaelic and hurling have multiple performance requirements that a player needs if he wants to excel:
• Aerobic capacity – to run and perform skills accurately for 70 minutes without tiring
• Speed and repeated sprint ability – being able to reproduce short, quick bursts of speed in multiple directions and with varying recoveries
• Agility – being able to change direction, react and respond quickly to play
• Strength and Explosive power – to jump/kick/strike/catch/tackle
• Skill – perfecting the skills of the game and being able to repeat them precisely over and over
Training has to address all of the above components and integrate the skill components with physical fitness. It can be difficult to get the balance right between sessions, making sure to target all the components without overtraining some and neglecting others. This is even more complex in a team situation where players have different strengths and weaknesses that need to be addressed.
The best athletes and coaches are very purposeful in their approach to training and competition – they look to get fitter, faster, stronger and more skillful. If the athletes have the physical capabilities and the coach is smart, this will happen.
Every training session has a goal, every training block has a purpose and every training year has a plan. Granted, plans can be altered in response to changes in competition like qualifying for championship games or being promoted to a new league.
The purpose of a training block can be manipulated to address deficits in performance seen in games. Most importantly they train consciously – they know what they are trying to achieve and work hard towards that, not just going through the motions.
But, as often happens, continually second-guessing and changing training direction after every game or few games is a sure way to fail.
It is often seen that a player will decide that he isn't fit enough so will bombard themselves with a block of "fitness" work to try and improve. Or a coach will decide that his team aren't strong enough so will be sent to the gym to lift heavy weights.
But what most don't consider is how this will fit in with the overall plan for the season and what impact will the change in sessions or extra sessions have on individual or team performance? Overtraining one component can sacrifice another and constantly chopping and changing causes confusion to the brain and body.
We train to create improvement in performance. To do this, physical stress to the body is required. The stress can be changed and individualised by manipulating elements of training like the frequency, duration and intensity of the sessions.
Know what the goal of the session is, what components you are training and what you are trying to achieve. Harder, longer and higher intensity is not always better. High intensity training is a powerful tool but it is also highly stressful to the energy systems and body.
These are the session that it takes the body the longest to recover from. Too much, too frequently and players can wind up sick, injured and burned out. Pay close attention to the intensity of training both on the pitch and in the gym and balance the intensity over a week/month/year. When planning the next training session consider is it just training the same component again? Is it a new stress? Has there been sufficient recovery? Think it through, plan ahead and train smart!