All training sessions, irrespective of the sport or activity, tend to follow the same patterns.
For professional sports people training is an everyday event - a way of life.
Each training session is carefully planned to fit into a long-term training programme.
Training programmes are carefully designed to ensure the athlete reaches their peak performance in time for a major event such as the Olympic games.
Training programmes can be planned over a one to two year period.
Irrespective of the sport, planning a programme involves the use of the FITT principles.
Frequency: Training sessions should be sufficient to bring about improvements, but there should also be enough recovery time, particularly in physically intense activities.
Intensity: Training must be set at a sufficient level to bring about changes in the body systems.
Time: Training time for each session should be judged in accordance with fitness levels. For the same intensity, this should be gradually increased (See Principles of Training - Progression Learn-it) as cardiorespiratory and muscular endurance increases.
Type: The type of training activities included in the training programme must be the same as, or closely associated with, the particular sport or activity.
There are four clear allocations of time during a training session:
Skills session which could involve small-sided games
The body needs to be correctly prepared for any activity.
The warm up period should:
Increase the blood flow to the muscles
Increase arousal levels to the activity
Reduce the risk of injury to muscles and tendons.
Warm up should be specific to the activity but should include:
- Activities that cause the heart rate to increase slowly increasing blood supply to the muscles
- Flexibility exercises to gently stretch muscles in preparation for activity
- Activities associated with the sport such as throwing a rugby ball around before a rugby session.
The type of activity will determine the amount of time spent on warm up.
The amount of fitness and its importance depends on the activity and the level at which the activity is been played be it local level, regional level, national level etc.
Aerobic fitness is important in most sports so it should follow that some aerobic fitness training is included.
These should be based, where possible, on the game or activity.
There can be individual and team skills.
The skills sessions have to be a closely related to the 'real' situation as possible so that transfer from practice to 'real' is easily accomplished.
These sessions can be used to develop 'set plays' ensuring that each person involved in the 'set play' knows exactly what they have to do.
These 'set plays' should use passive opposition and then more active opposition to make the situation more realistic.
Small-game situations can also be used in this part of the session and the 'set plays' or practiced skills can then be put into the 'real' situation.
This part of the training session is very important for two reasons:
It allows the body to start its recovery process by starting to remove the lactate build up.
Stretching during this time will help the muscle fibres to return to their starting state and help start to repair any damaged fibres.
Cool down also provides a good opportunity to conclude a session as a team or individual with a coach.
Key points of the session can be recapped and the bringing together of a team for this session can help to continue to build the team spirit of a group.
There are many advantages to using circuit training as part of a training programme:
Circuit training involves using different areas of a gym, sportshall, church hall or any other clear indoor or outdoor space.
In these areas or stations the athletes have to perform specified activities. After completing the activity at one station the performer moves onto the next.
The time spent at one station can be a measured amount of time or a specific number of reps.
The activities differ so that different muscle groups are being used while other muscle groups can recover.
It can improve fitness levels of a large number of people.
It can be accomplished in a relatively small space.
It requires a minimum amount of equipment as the performers body provides the 'weight'.
Because the performer provides the 'weight' and resistance there is a less likely chance of injury.
It is a highly adaptable for different sports or activities.
It can be designed to train aspects of fitness or skills or both.
Circuit Training Design
When designing a circuit there are several things that have to be considered:
What is the purpose of the circuit?
The types of activities to achieve the purpose
The number of stations in the circuit
The number of reps or time on each station
The amount of recovery time
The number of circuits
The total length of the training session
The correct guidelines to correct movement patterns need to be clear.
Intensity and Overload
For any training session to be effective, it should be of high enough intensity to overload the body systems of an individual.
If, during circuit training, everyone does the same thing; the same number of reps or the same amount of time, then individual fitness levels are not being taken into account.
Some people will be trying to work at levels above their fitness and others will be working at levels beneath their fitness level.
Performers can be tested on each activity to determine their maximum score, or how much they can do in a fixed period of time.
This score is then halved and these half scores become their training amounts.
Three circuits are completed, with each performer working at their own level.
A time is recorded when the three circuits have been completed, with each performer working at their own level.
An improvement on this time serves as a new target for the next training session.
Individuals are re-tested at regular intervals.
Circuit training in games such as rugby, football, netball and hockey can easily be planned but usually require more space than fitness circuits.
Basic skills such as passing, dribbling and shooting are performed at various stations.