Part 1 - introductioN
It's In-Season now for Gaelic Players and end of season for a host of Field Sports like Hockey, Rugby, Soccer and play - offs, championships, promotion and relegation are all on the line. Small things matter at this point. Many coaches panic and fear fatigue or in just from S&C work. But in fact it's really the opposite that will happen. A drop in sharpness is much more likely. You do not have to do anything significant, but you do need to train certain qualities in particular.
Volume is the key variant to avoid overtraining, injury and maintain sharpness. Learning to taper into Championship games is not a skill many coaches seem to have perfected. That taper can start anywhere from 10-21 days previous depending on many variants. But a simple drop of 10% of time from 10-14 days out each session seems to work well. We still see excessive training sessions and AvB games at full length within 10 days of big games. If you have created a competitive environment then this could be a disaster. Players will not hold back once started. Now, playing consecutive weeks is a different animal and needs a slightly different approach. But one that still maintains S&C.
How to focus Training
While the game itself and training will maintain elements like Aerobic Capacity, Strength, Speed (and acceleration/deceleration) and Agility(both COD and general game based cognitive agility) in particular need constant work. The game will maintain specific strength, but we need to keep an eye on general qualities as well.
Strength detraining can start within 5-7 days. This from a Peak Force perspective and not atrophy (muscle loss) which can be avoided for up to 3 weeks (link). Neuromuscularly there is a difference. As strength training has a huge influence on GFP (Ground Force Production) then obviously in turn speed and acceleration/deceleration will also be affected. I like the 4 day gap from a proper strength session to game, but am not against closer with experienced and disciplined athletes and even “on-the-day” primers. But that is only for people at a high training age who have practiced throughout season. All training retention though is essentially directly influenced by training experience, so hard and fast rules are not the best approach. Again that’s where experienced S&C Coaches come in.
I will dive into it a bit more in next post, but strength training includes plyometrics and jumps in this sphere. Although it probably would require an experienced S&C Coach at training to facilitate the use of speed & power exercises instead of traditional gym based exercises.
The key points about in-season training are:
Speed (Acceleration, deceleration, Alactic Capacity and Power)
Aerobic Capacity & Aerobic Power