(My views are my own)
Last Thursday (26th March, 2020), I presented as part of the Performance MDT Webinar put together by Steve Barrett and co. from PlayerMaker. The event was massive, with over 3,000 people registered, over 5,500 views on Facebook Live and 14+ hours of presentations. Credit goes to those guys, and everyone involved, for providing a platform and keeping knowledge moving around the world, whilst we are stuck at home.
Below I have included a link to my presentation, as well as my answers to some of the questions I recieved on Twitter and LinkedIn 🙂
How do you maintain a high chronic load over the season, considering the fixture schedule varies hugely? And at what point during the season do you aim to achieve ‘three games worth’ a week?
By the end of pre-season we aim to get the lads conditioned for 2 games worth of ‘load’ a week, and then push this to 3 just before Christmas (this takes longer due to international breaks). We then do a couple of weeks of deload, as the lads are mentally, more than physically fatigued. From that point on, we aim for 2-2.5 games worth of load a week (on average), depending on cup runs. By this stage of the season, there is less emphasis on pushing load capacity, and more on maintaining the necessary level. So we will still fluctuate our weeks (de-load, maintenance, overload) but with a lower ‘ceiling’.
In your presentation you showed your periodisation approach for high speed running, do you take the same approach for other physical parameters?
Yes, I used HSR as an example, but we periodise all our key metrics using the same principles.
When using the ACWR, do you use the exponentially weighted moving average or a normal rolling average?
The injury risk stats produce similar results for each method but we use a normal rolling average, more for practicality than anything else. Whilst an EWMA method may give a better idea of the decaying effect, it is a ‘made up’ load that you can’t replicate or aim for in practice. I find it easier and more applicable to aim for loads players actually hit rather than what they would hit if you applied a decay factor. Purely research driven or statistics driven answers are of course different.
How do you gage your overload and underload weeks?
Our overload weeks are between 120-140% of our chronic load, depending on how much we are trying to push load capacity, and our deloads are 85-90%. This is based on the research I did as part of my PhD, and is therefore specific to the club.
Do you have different GPS targets for each metric on each training day? Are these team or individual targets?
Yes and no. Their are rough targets for the day and these help dictate how many small sided games we do and for how long (for example). These are based on a breakdown of the squad weekly targets (absolute). Any individual needs (discussed in our meetings) are addressed either through drill modification (e.g. wide channels) or top ups (ideally not but still necessary). Sessions are not dictated by physical targets but content is often guided by the resulting physical outputs.
What is the scientific underpinning for using % match load as your monitoring tool?
It is less of a scientific reason, and more of a practical one. It is easier for a coach or player to relate to. Game play is ultimately what we are preparing them for, so it allows us to have clearer discussions with both when planning or reviewing training. It also provides a target for our chronic loads.
You use a 3 week meso based on research but philosophically use a different model that suggests injury risk is multifaceted, so do you ever adapt your meso?
We use a 3-week model not just because of links to injury risk, but for performance as well. Most of the time this model suits our schedule and training structures. However, not just due to injury, but performance and operational factors too, we do occasionally come away from the 3-week model (for example I mentioned above that after Christmas we do a two-week de-load). Whilst we have processes and best practice in place, we are adaptable to the volatile environment and unpredictable nature of the individuals within it. Therefore, we may change the plan to suit the needs of the players.
I hope that was useful, hopefully it won’t be long before we are sharing knowledge in person again 🙂