This article is guest blogged by Eric Broadbent, a certified USA Track and Field Level 2 Coach, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), holds USTFCCCA Track & Field Technical Certification, and a USA Weightlifting Sport Performance Coach.
His last post titled Misconceptions: Training the Air and Bridging the Gap Between Strength and Speed were a huge hit on the social media circles, and here is my Freelap Friday Five Interview with him.
To read all his guest articles on this Blog, click here for the full list.
Coaches are constantly striving for the perfect yearly workout plan. The one where everything comes together and the athlete finishes off the season with a PR and hits their goal that you both set out for them at the beginning of the season. When we breakdown this yearly plan into smaller parts, such as down to a specific workout for the day, the goal is to get in, accomplish whatever the specific goals are for the session, then get out healthy. The more times you can accomplish this task throughout the year, the more likely you are to reach that goal (assuming you have a good plan in place).
Most, if not all of the workouts, should end on a good note. This can mean different things for different sessions, but the key is to have the athlete feeling confident and good about the session. While we’d like to have the athlete high fiving us and bursting with a smile as they leave, this isn’t always going to be the case and it would be very naïve of us to expect this every time. There are going to be some workouts that are more conditioning based or will tax the athlete metabolically and/or neurologically, and might leave them feeling pretty toasted afterwards. You shouldn’t expect high fives and smiles from them after these either but make sure you give them praise for busting their butt. While these types of workouts do have their place in the training program, they are not always the sign of a successful workout. The whole “no pain, no gain” mentality is still very alive in the training realm and this is very unfortunate for both athletes and coaches.
A lot of times though, the best workouts are the ones that end on a fast rep, quality movement pattern, or both. The athlete may describe the rep as feeling different or even easy. This is a good time to give that positive reinforcement and considering stopping the workout. This is something I have been trying to work on myself as a younger and less experienced coach. The hard part is knowing when to pull the plug on a workout. I have certainly been guilty of doing too much in a given session and my athletes have felt the consequences of my actions. If I have 10 full approach long jump runs planned then I’ve got to do all 10 right? Wrong! You don’t have to be a slave to the workout plan. The best coaches are the ones that can adapt a workout based on the feedback they receive from their athletes. If rep number 8 looks good but the athlete seems more tired than usual, you could try giving them more rest or time to clear their head, but chances are, it is probably best to stop at 8 run-throughs. The more technical the training component is that you are addressing, the more this whole concept holds true.
While progressive overload is still a very critical component to setting up the whole training plan, sometimes the athlete isn’t ready to progress the overall volume. Or they may be starting to do things correctly, i.e. running faster than they ever have before for a given rep, and that in and of itself is progressive overload on the body. Maybe not from a volume standpoint but certainly from an intensity standpoint. There are also always a ton of external factors to consider like sleep, stress, diet that come in to play. If the athlete is overloaded in these other areas then adaptation may slow down or you may even have to take a few steps back with your athletes.
The key is to always be looking and asking for feedback from your athletes. Don’t be a slave to the workout plan and consider ending on as many positive notes as you can while still getting in an adequate amount of training. There aren’t too many athletes out there that are under-trained and I would venture to guess that more are on the over-trained side of things, so cutting things a little short may do wonders for your program. Give your athlete the positive feedback that they deserve and call it a day.
About the Author
Eric Broadbent is a certified USA Track and Field Level 2 Coach, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), holds USTFCCCA Track & Field Technical Certification, and a USA Weightlifting Sport Performance Coach. He also has over 6 years of coaching experience including coaching at North Carolina State and West Chester University. As an athlete, he won the USATF 2012 Indoor Heptathlon and was an Olympic Trials Qualifier. That same year he represented the US in the Pan American Cup and took 2nd place. As a national level competitor he also had top 6 finishes at the 2009 and 2010 Indoor Combined Events Championship and finished 10th at the 2011 Outdoor National Championships.