Smarter ways of training athletes

Under training is just as bad as over training; High training loads are not the problem it is how you get there that is.
Smarter ways of training athletes

Clearly for athletes to develop the physical capacities required to provide a protective effect against injury and to perform better in competition they must be prepared to train hard. There is also evidence that under training may increase chances of injury risk and result low performance. Successful teams understand that training SMART is the key, load monitoring, injury prevention,  rehab, stress management, team management, leadership, team building,  setting smart goals, making strategy, working on weak areas, skill development  and  performance are closely interlinked. So successful teams manage to work closely with qualified sports physio and sports medicine team and the common goal is to produce best results. Training dose response relationship so it is all about dose response relationship antibiotic analogy. Certain amount of adequate training is beneficial, over training is counterproductive. Training creates a positive as well as a negative balance. Feeling fit is a positive, feeling fatigue and run down constantly is not on definitely and it creates a negative balance. So rest, recovery nutrition sleep and load monitoring will be the true and quality of a good team. Injuries are possible at both at high and low training loads but an athlete who has not adequately trained runs the risk of subsequent injury. Training at the sweet spot optimum zone winners sit here. Young fast bowlers go through many phases where they over load themselves and they expose themselves to stress reactions, no mandate on the number of balls to be bowled for training to injury prevention .Recurrence of injury-reasons- lack of load monitoring. Three forms of cricket,T-20 3 hours,50 hours to 80 hours, Test  6 to 7 hours, domestic workload has changed,IPL and other leagues,30% more cricket increase in high velocity runs. In Australia, Sydney Swans have their own lab and technology, their own evidence based scientific approach use of Global Positioning System and other  tracking devices technology allows you to capture data on distances covered, speeds reached during match play and intensity of batting wicket keeping and bowling. 

Acute vs chronic workload ratio ACWR

External load: Total distance run, weight lifted, kms  cycle/swam, repeated sprints /jumps.                  Internal load: Heart rate(HR) RPE Rate of  Perceived Exertion and/or well-being scores. Mode to calculate RPE multiple by Minutes=Units. For Example 60 mins every other day with RPE 7-5day /week.

Acute workload =Sum of load across a rolling 7 days period e: g, 5 days of exercise multiply 420 units /session=2100 units. 

Chronic workload=Average of the acute load over a rolling 4 weeks i:e assuming that you gradually increase your training loads /week to get fitter week1(2100),week2(2200),week3(2300),week4(2400)=2100+2200+2300+2400/4weeks=chronic workload of 2250 units. If in week 5 you had a workload of 2500 your ACWR is 2500/2250=1.11.

Performance is estimated as fitness minus fatigue the chronic workload represents a marker of fitness, while the acute workload represents a marker of fatigue. The difference between the positive and negative function of fatigue provides either a positive i:e chronic workload is above the acute workload or negative i:e acute workload is above the chronic workload, training –stress balance. 

Sample workload  of an  Indian cricket player:  Acute work load  Wk1=3320,wk2=4162,wk3=1460,wk4=1427,wk5matchwk=3845,so chronic workload is avg.wk1:wk4 which is 2592 units.5th Wk. load is 3845 units so ACWR is 3845 /2592=1.48. 

SWEET SPOT : Guide to interpreting and applying acute: chronic workload ratio data.The green-shaded area ('sweet spot') represents acute: chronic workload ratios where injury risk is low. The red-shaded area ('danger zone') represents acute: chronic workload ratios where injury risk is high. To minimise injury risk, clinician or practitioners should aim to maintain the acute: chronic workload ratio within a range of approximately is 0.8–1.50. 

T20 game recently, 7.8kms distance covered, 372 meters of high speed running at 30.00kph tops 45 sprints in total. OZ teams have RPE and GPS data for the last 5 years reliable data on workload. Data was collected from 28 fast bowlers over a six year period, avg. for fast bowler.T20=5.5km, 50 overs=13.4km, Multi day full day play=22.6km. 

Research over 10 years in Australian Cricket Injury Rates between 2001-2011, Fast Bowlers=18%, Batsmen=7%, Spin bowlers 6%, Wicketkeepers recorded= 4%

Take home message: 

Is training causing injuries or is it cure, low training loads increase injury risk, poor fitness and poor performance. Gradual adequate high intensity training loads increase exercise tolerance and results good performance. Do not increase training loads greater than 10% from week to week, key is to find the balance, Sweet spot. Under training is just as bad as over training. High training loads are not the problem it is how you get there that is. Progressive increases in chronic workload may develop the player's physical tolerance to higher acute loads and resilience to injury risk. Successful teams understand training SMART is the key to prevent injuries and enhance Performance.

Author is BCCI qualified sorts physio

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