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In-season Training: The Day After Regionals

May 7, 2010

It’s been said that an expert is someone who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a narrow field. Now, I can’t quite claim to be The Expert on Ultimate strength coaching, but I have certainly made my fair share of mistakes in these last two years of training for College-level Ultimate.

Our team just got back from UPA College Regionals, had a great time, and even though I had recovered mostly from a sadsad injury earlier in the year (SI joint inflammation), it was more of a mental-game and game-game peak for me rather than a physical-game peak for the 2010 season.

So, what’s the mistake I made not just once, but twice earlier in the college season? Pushing too hard in the gym and overworking myself [and my nervous system] in the days and week (singular) following a big tourney.

In the sports training world, periodization can refer to “organized approach to training that involves progressive cycling of various aspects of a training program during a specific period of time… a way of alternating training to its peak during season.”

In other words, planning. And recognizing that one’s progress will be generally non-linear, with ebbs and flows, stressors and recovery. [For the dedicated reader, see Zatsiorsky, the Science and Practice of Strength Training

So, how heavy should you lift in season? How hard and often should you sprint? These are questions I myself ask, but I’m going to cite Dan John here, whose blog post on inseason training helped me realize yet another Error of my ways.

I’m no expert, but I coached HS football a long time and I just have a few ideas:

1. The “heavy” day should be the day after a game…actually, right after a game works well, too, especially for underclassmen who play on the day before the Varsity, having them train on the Friday, for example, helps a lot.

2. The “other” day should be stuff that doesn’t take a lot of nerve. Don’t Snatch and Clean and Jerk, so to speak. Box Squats, Straight Leg Deadlifts, some dumbbell work and a few machines would work well, but don’t have the athlete tax his nervous system. If you have kettlebells, of course, you can do Goblet Squats, the Get Ups, and the Swing as restoratives, too.

3. Don’t be surprised if he gets really stronger, maintains, or drops way down. Any reaction to the training program is normal… Benching and squatting tend to drop, but that seems normal vis-a-vis the work load of football.

4. Don’t be afraid to cut the volume, but strive to keep the intensity up. 5 x 5 just isn’t going to work, but 2 x 5 would be fine…

5. Watch the acne. If he starts breaking out, getting colds, that kind of thing…he is really overtraining. HS kids can handle a ton of volume, then seem to crash.

To summarize, team practice and/or some lifting the day or two after a hard tournament–provided you are in healthy shape–might not be a bad idea.

What IS a bad idea is to tax your nervous system too hard the Thursday/Friday after a big tourney, especially with unfamiliar volumes, lifts, complexes, or generally any “nervous system” taxing program. After all, are we training to train well in the gym? or to manage injury risk, maintain/develop fitness/GPP, and help us excel slash dominate on the field? Your choice =)

In my case, I pushed it too hard with complexes I hadn’t done before after one 2-day tourney and a few days later got H1N1… then I did it again but with heavy (BW+) bilateral barbell deadlifts that I haven’t done for months, the Thursday after another tourney. (Let’s just say my nervous system wasn’t happy about that!)

I didn’t actually realize this until I went back after the fact to analyze my training volume / intensity / timing, noting that my training up-until tournaments was working great re: progressions and periodization… I just screwed it up by using the high of post-tourney excitement to justify new lifts and pushing my nervous system even harder when it *should* have been adapting to the demand of a 2- or 3-day tournament itself.

That’s all for tonight, check out Dan’s Q&A about lifting page for more classic Dan John thoughts on lifting and team sports.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Leslie Wu permalink
    May 7, 2010 8:39 am

    Questions? Ask here or on

  2. keith permalink
    May 16, 2010 11:53 am

    this q has nothing to do with training. i am currently ‘teaching’ young boys and girls to play ultimate. they range in age from 12-14 years old. obviously, there are a few older boys that have the confidence to be aggressive regarding throwing and catching 50/50 discs. my concern is with the girls. how do i instill in them the importance of throwing and catching and assertiveness. i know these abilities are present, but i don’t exactly identify with young girls. i guess my question is: what do i use for a carrot?

  3. Leslie Wu permalink
    May 26, 2010 7:28 am

    Here’s what strength coach Leslie Cordova of said to say,

    “Young girls that age need to first have confidence to catch first.

    They don’t want to be embarrassed in front of their peers & especially in front of the boys. Start by teaching them how to throw & catch by making it easier at first. You want to set them up to succeed.

    Make it challenging & fun but you have to instill within them the belief that they can do it successfully. I wouldn’t do anything with contact right away until they gain the confidence. Maybe you can create targets with points to throw at & make it a contest, creating prizes or rewards for certain point levels. You can also create different games for catching as well.

    The “carrot” for young girls is to make it fun & social. They need to enjoy the challenge in a team/social atmosphere. Be creative, make it fun, build their confidence & self-esteem and as their confidence grows, their aggressiveness & determination will also increase.”

    Thanks Leslie!


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