Strength and Conditioning is the combination of resistance training and endurance conditioning that is used by athletes and sports teams to improve and assist their performance (Driskell, 1999). Sport specific fitness can include a structured progressive program that could comprise of power, muscular endurance, strength, speed, aerobic or anaerobic conditioning (Steindler, 1955). It has been shown that strength and conditioning programs increase sports performance, producing better athletic results and reducing the incidence of injury (Burrows, 2007). Strength and conditioning programs are suitable for athletes performing at recreational levels, elite levels, sports teams or anyone else looking to ascertain new training methods that might raise their performance capabilities (Baechle & Earle, 2000).
The aim of this assignment is to undertake a needs analysis for a chosen sport and position and to design and outline a six week training programme suitable for the individual athlete. The assignment will consider periodization as well as an analysis of the macrocycle, mesocycle and microcycle sections of a training programme.
The sport and position that will be discussed within this report is football and a central defender. Football is a demanding sports in terms of the effort the players need to put into the game. Football training and conditioning is essential. Players can cover around 8-12km during a match of which 24% is covered by walking, 36% covered by jogging, 20% coursing, 11% sprinting, 7% moving backwards and 2% moving whilst in possession of the ball (Reilly, 1996).
Central defenders need a wide range of attributes, which include height, Strength, balance and a good mentality. Saif (2002) claimed that a defender needs to have good concentration during games and also require skill attributes such as tackling and heading.
Football players need to have excellent endurance. They require a VO2max that has been reported to range between 55 and 70 ml/kg/min in elite performers (Bangsbo, 1991). The game is played approximately 80-90% of maximum heart rate (Helgerud et al, 2001). The greater a player’s aerobic capacity, the greater the distance they would cover during a typical game (Reilly & Thomas, 1976).
Many factors need to be considered to plan and implement a successful training programme. These factors include periodization, macrocycle, mesocycle and microcycle along with other essential phases. These are all factors that need to be taken into account in order for a successful training programme.
Periodization is a planned execution of particular training phases (Bompa & Haff, 1996). The training during the periodization phase is based on increasing and decreasing the volume of repetitions, time and amount of sets. In addition an increase and decrease in intensity. These measures are implemented when planning a structured training program. An important characteristic of periodization training is the scheduling of a recovery period. The principal attributes of periodization include creativity, tactical preparation and utilization of the recovery (Bompa, 2005).
Examples of periodization programmes include, Stepwise where training includes high volume with low intensity and progresses to low volume and high intensity. In addition, Undulating periodization is used. This is where volume and intensity of training are changed throughout the course of a short period of time. Periodization is the most effective form of training when aiming to improve on muscle strength, motor performance and body composition.
The macrocycle can be defined by four different components. These components include the number of competitions, dates of competitions, the recovery period between competitions and the preparation period before competition. (Dick, 2002)
The microcycle is the smallest part of the overall program as it accounts for only one week of the training. The mesocycle is the part of the year that the athlete is in, for example ‘mesocycle 1’ will be the pre-season phase. The macrocycle is the overall program based over a year (Dick, 2002).
The Anatomical Adaptation is established at the start of the season or immediately after the transition phase. It is introduced before the season starts as it adapts the body for future strength programs. The aim of this stage is to involve all of the muscle groups which prepare muscle, ligaments, and tendons and joins in preparation for training. These strength programs should look to include all parts of the body such as arms and legs but also for the core area, which includes the lower back, abdomen and spinal column musculature. The muscle areas present support for the arms and legs, to help absorb any shock during exercises that require landing or falling. This period is essential because it generates objective growth of the muscles.
Maximum strength phase sets to develop the highest force possible. The training requires the athlete to train at 85-100 percent of 1RM. Many sports require power, muscular endurance or a mixture of both. This phase will last between 1 and 3 months depending on the athletes needs (Bompa, 2005)
The conversion phase transforms the maximum strength that has been developed ready to use during competitive. This conversion occurs when specific training is performed. Throughout this phase an assured level of maximum strength must be acquired otherwise power will deteriorate. Weight training is the most appropriate method of doing this. The duration of this period depends on the ability being converted. The customary period is between 4 and 5 weeks. Conversion to muscular endurance is 6-8 weeks due to anatomical changes that take longer to transform (Bompa, 2005).
The competition phase consists of work carried out during pre-season and must be maintained to reduce the probability of detraining. If an athlete does not maintain their pre season training then muscle fibres can decrease, power is lost as there is a decrease in motor recruitment and speed which can result in a decrease of power. These decreases can result in poor performance during the season.
A transition period is commonly known as the off-season. The aim of this phase is to remove any fatigue a player has developed. It is a method of replenishing the energy systems by decreasing the volume of exercise. This can also be an effective way of reducing the psychological stresses that the player could experience during training and competition. This relaxation period can allow the player to loosen up and rest. Although this period has benefits it should last no longer than 4-6 weeks as there would be great deterioration of the players training. (Bompa, 2005).
Training programmes can be developed to aid the development of the player.The goal set to achieve in the training program is to try to improve performance levels. This includes fitness and skill levels. To find the improvements of a player the measurements will be recorded through fitness testing as a marker to distinguish if certain component skills are improving or not (Fleck and Kraemer, 2004). When planning a training programme for a particular sport, Specificity must be considered. This associates to how much difference there is between training and performance. This is very important, as training inappropriately could ultimately have a negative effect on performance.
Performance levels are measured through fitness testing. The levels will be assessed prior to the training program and after the training program to see if, there has been any improvement. Alternatively, the program may show signs of a decrease in skill levels because the training program did not work and therefore changes will need to take place to solve the problems immediately (Brooks, 2004).
When designing a strength and conditioning program the experience of the player must be taken into account. This is because it would be easier to improve a player at a lower level such as amateur league or Sunday league than a player who is at professional level (Reynolds, 1982). This is because; to improve a professional player other factors must be taken into account such as the attitude of the payer. If the player’s attitude to improve is good then it will become easier to improve than if the player has a bad attitude towards it however this could also be a factor for amateur players (Magnusen and Rhea, 2009).
Strength and conditioning programs must take into account the time of year such as if it is Pre season or in season etc. Moody (2007) suggests “The 4 Phases of a football strength training program” which includes, off-season, Off-Season/Early Pre-Season, Late Pre-Season and In-season.
During the off season players should look to build functional strength. Football like any sport, places a lot of demand on the body. Most players kick the ball with a predominat foot and using the same motor patterns, some muscles develop more than others. Some joints are also experience more stress than others. The goals of this phase are to prepare the joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons for more intense work in subsequent phases.
With a good foundation to build on after phase one the player is prepared to move into phase 2 which is the off-Season/early pre-season period where they set to build maximal strength. The goal of this phase is to develop the highest force possible. Since power is our overall outcome, it makes sense to develop strength first and then convert it into football specific power. The aim is to complete this phase before the start of the season. That way the latter stages of pre-season training can focus on power and strength endurance training.
Phase three is the late pre-season – muscular power and strength endurance. In this phase of football strength training, goal is to convert your strength gains into soccer-specific power and muscular endurance. Football is one of the few sports demands roughly equal amounts of explosive force and strength endurance. Plyometric training and/or circuit training should replace sessions in the weight room for this phase. It will last roughly 4-6 weeks depending on your schedule.
Phase four is the in-season maintenance which aims to maintain the gains you’ve made during a strenuous pre-season period without over reaching or over training. This is not one big, continuous phase in your soccer strength training routine. Because the competitive season can last up to 9 months, it should be split up so the strength routine is in smaller cycles.
Periodization of a player to perform maximally at competition level is crucial at times. For example, if the England team try to get maximum performance out of a midfielder for a world cup in four years time, they should make use of a young midfielder of 22, who would then be more of a mature player at 26 when the world cup begins. This Periodization is a long-term assessment; but for the amateur player a short-term assessment will be made (Bompa and Carrera, 2005)
The program will focus on training pre-season for the player so that the player is prepared for the new season in our training program. In addition, the competitive status of which the player will be training for is the amateur league so it will be competitive for the player and with in reason.
The strength of the player will need to be improved through free weights, as in a game situation the player will not be supported by any machines. Muscle groups that are a key in the sport are lower body muscles such as the quadriceps and hamstrings. The movements that will be involved with this are a squat position to strengthen quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. This may need to be done through maximum power. Tackles that the player makes needs to be explosive although the athlete also needs to be able to do this through out the 90 minutes. Upper strength also needs to be maintained to be able to keep balance and be strong enough to jostle for the ball and gain possession.
Another key skill component that will be needed is maintaining cardiovascular endurance. This is maintained by running on a regular basis in an environment, which the player would be performing. This is so that the player is aware of the environment and surroundings. Although working in a regular environment can help with the development of the player, the use of treadmills can also be efficient. Kravitz et al (1996) has shown that heart rate levels are higher with the use of treadmills than is an athlete uses a cycle. These findings suggest that the player would work harder when using a treadmill than training outdoors.
To assess an athlete’s performance fitness tests can be introduced to identify strengths and weaknesses. When tests are complete, the player can then assess what skill components they need to improve on and what needs to be maintained.
It is important to decide the most suitable fitness test, which can be used to measure these skill components. After the tests are identified data can be collected so that analysis can be made to see where the weaknesses and strength are obtained. After this analysis decisions can be made as to what exercises are needed to create the training programme.
Before any training can proceed, a medical of the player must be undertaken. This is to make sure they have no illnesses that can harm them during their training (Waehner, 2010)
The facilities in which the player or a team may train in can vary a person’s ability to train. For example, if a player is training their football skills in the rain on outdoor grass, then it can become very difficult to train indoors as the difference in the environment can affect their ability. Although training outdoors in the rain can be off putting. However it can also be an advantage because it replicates playing in a competitive game where the weather conditions vary.
When assessing the individuals performance we need to fitness test them, so by doing this we are going to assess their cardiovascular system. This can be done by the 12-minute cooper test, which is a field test, which measures how far a person can travel in 12 minutes. This will be done prior to the training program and 6 weeks after the programme to see if there are any improvements within 6 weeks. This will be the same with all the fitness tests that are included to measure the skill components.
Next thing we need to asses is muscular power. We can do this by fitness testing one repetition max test. There are a number of exercises we could use to test this fitness component such as handgrip dynamometer and maximum bench press. The exercise we will be using for this is a squat as it improves lower body for tackling and needs explosive power when in a need for short bursts in a game situation.
Before a training programme can be created, the following training principles should be used. The principle is abbreviated to “S.P.O.R.T” which stands for, Specificity, Progression, Overload, Reversibility and Tedious as a way of guiding my training program.
Specificity is the principle of training that states that sports training should be relevant and appropriate to the sport for which the individual is training in order to produce a training effect (Triplett, 2006) The athlete is going to be training over a 6-week period prior to the new football season. It is important to emphasise the cardiovascular system whilst maintaining key component skill factors. Trying to improve Muscular Power is also a key factor so that the player can sharpen up and be more explosive ready for the new season.
The Principle of Progression implies that there is an optimal level of overload that should be achieved, and an optimal period for this overload to occur (Shepard, 2009). For the athlete to progress when training cardiovascular endurance, he will start off at a level that he is comfortable with and is able to perform such as running for a 10-minute period. For the progression, the athlete can add on 30 seconds each time he runs. Therefore, the next time this athlete runs it will be 10 minutes and 30 seconds, then 11 minutes and so on.
To progress when performing muscular power exercises the athlete could add on an extra 2.5kg every session. This is because if the athlete added to much extra weight they could become injured so progress made should be slower. This should only be prepared if and when the athlete feels, it is possible. If the athlete struggles with the weight, it is highly unlikely that the player will be able to lift anything heavier.
The principle of overload states that a greater than normal stress or load on the body is required for training adaptation to take place (Kavanaugh, 2007). To make sure that the athlete does not over load on his training programme we will be organising a programme that includes three training sessions a week for a 6-week period. This can reduce the risk of the player becoming fatigued and unable to train.
The Reversibility Principle dictates that athletes lose the effects of training when they stop working out. Conversely, it also means that detraining effects can be reversed when they resume training (Powers et al, 2006). When a player has started to progress their skill levels, they could become injured. If injury occurs, reversibility is a big factor that can affect progress. If the player trains three times during a week and sticks to the training program then this should not be a problem. It is much harder to get back into the fitness levels that you once were if reversibility sets in. This is in particular a big vulnerability when working with cardiovascular endurance.
Tedium commonly occurs in those who regularly perform monotonous exercise routines. Unlike fatigue, boredom leads to a lack of desire to exercise, rather than an inability to exercise. Boredom is one of the main reasons why people stop exercising and drop out of sport. It can be avoided if the type and location of exercise is varied, if achievable but challenging targets are set, and if exercise is made more fun (Baechle and Earle, 2000). Boredom sets in when the training program becomes the same every week and there are no goals or challenges for the player to try to achieve. If a training program becomes to boring for a player they may become jaded and therefore it will be very difficult for them to stick to the training program and be motivated for future sessions.
When designing a training program it is important to make sure that the coach assesses the situation of the athlete and starts the program at the level the athlete has reached. For example, if an athlete is at a low level of training then the coach must start the program with easier ability exercises.
The emphasis on the first week of the program is to get the athlete ready and motivated to become active. To achieve this, the program will include high intensity training to get the athlete ready and prepared for the new season and the program will start with Cardiovascular Endurance Training. The skill of the player will also need to be tested and this can be performed by the 12 minutes cooper run and finding out how far the player can run over a 12-minute period.
The results are assessed after the test to create a suitable starting time for this player. The player will start running at 10 minutes. This will then be done 3 times in the first week whilst adding 30 seconds on each time.
In addition, muscular power will also be assessed. To perform this test the player will use weight training and perform squats. Adams et al (1992) found that squats exercises enhance power production, which is why we are using squats as the main exercise in producing muscular power. The player will start off at a weight he can lift and add on 2.5k each time. This will overload the progression of muscular power. Low weights with high repetition would increase muscular endurance and high weights with low repetition would increase muscular strength, so we need to try to avoid this and balance the weight distribution evenly to try to increase muscular power.
Firstly we need to fitness test his ability and by doing this we will do a maximum repetition max test on how many this player can squat. One set of ten squats at a high intensity, which would be a high weight so that muscular power can be strengthened.
The following weeks are set for a progression from week one and to maintain football skills and team work the players must attend club training sessions which is held once a week for an hour and a half.
When the player reaches the final week of the programme, he should feel fit and ready to perform at a high level. His skill levels should be higher as well as his attitude and motivation, this then acts as an indicator to show he is ready to compete in a competitive game situation for the new season ahead.
The final cardiovascular training session should consist of a 12 minute cooper run again to find out if the player has improved or not. My prediction would be that the player would run further this time than he did the first time he ran the 12-minute cooper run, if the results show an improvement then the training program has been efficient. The Athlete should also repeat a muscular endurance test. The one repetition max test should be carried out during the last session to see if the player has improved.
In conclusion, Strength and conditioning programmes can be very useful to the progression of an athlete. Whilst other methods of training have been found useful, a well-designed programme has been shown to improve an athlete’s ability greatly (Burrows, 2007). This could be because the athlete knows exactly what is needed from them and exactly when the effort is needed. The structured plan can give a big confidence boost for the athlete therefore, they will be eager to test their ability with the addition of a test to improve their ability for the season ahead. With the programme set up the athletes and coaches, can set targets and the athlete can then work within the programme to reach the goals. With a well-organised and constructive programme, improvements should be found. When improvements are not found, this indicates that the programme was not successful therefore; a revised programme must be made to aid the athlete.
I feel that there would be great improvements in the athlete’s ability because the programme sets out to achieve goals that were set and was specific to what the athlete needed to work on. No ineffective training was performed leaving the athlete training only what was needed to play at a higher level of football that before the programme.