I think that one of the most important areas of sports training that is being overlooked is how the athlete body feels. The athlete’s body is always right. You as a coach may think you know what’s going in inside, but in reality it’s always your best guesstimate. Knowing how your athlete’s body is responding to the training, practices, school work, etc is a tough challenge, and it’s toughest during a long season of competitions. No two people are the same. Hence, no two people respond to training the same. This especially becomes tough during the in-season stage of athletics. We know that most football training programs have different programs for red-shirted players vs. senior starters, but what about a sport like baseball where often times no one is red-shirted and everyone has a chance to play on a given day.
Throughout the in-season our baseball players utilize a system of ranking how their body feels that day, their nutrition, and sleep the night before. They do this every day so we can see changes throughout the season in their ability to adapt to all the stimuli that are present. When we have a long stretch of away games, players will always be fatigued and unable to recover fully before their next training session. Should the player that has played in 45+ innings that week and flown 1,000 miles across the country be on the same program that our backup centerfielder who hasn’t played in a month. Obviously not. By ranking their recovery, players are allowed to custom tailor their workout to how they feel and how their body is adapting to the loads. If a player feels terrible and has marked low numbers, they have the freedom to choose an alternate exercise in a de-load fashion, or choose an alternative set and / or rep scheme. A player may have 5 listed sets of an exercise, but the last 2-3 are optional. If a kid isn’t feeling it, then he can opt of of the last sets, and continue on his workout. Everything in the in-season training can be adjusted based on how our athlete feels.
Getting to this stage in the training requires lots of communication and trust between the sport or strength coach, and the athlete. All of our athletes know the importance of recovery, and restoration in their overall program. This system would be difficult to implement if our players didn’t understand their training, and what and how to achieve enhanced performance.
Now obviously there are problems with this system as anything. Coaches will always have those few athletes who will opt out of every optional set of training all the time. Or put down false numbers so they don’t have to do the whole workout. This can and does happen but knowing your athletes inside and out, as well as open lines of communication can help to curtail these instances.