Here we are nearly in July, the domestic season in Ireland has come to an end and it has been an eventful season. I like to use this time to review the last 12 months and see what worked and what didn’t. I have finished a lot of my coaching schemes but I do keep the Friday night session in Goleen open during the summer when I can. Most of what I term our elite athletes will take a much deserved break and it gives me time to work on some of our developing players.
However I regard this as one of the most important periods for our elite athletes as it is the time we put next season’s plan together. Initially I draft a season plan for the younger players asking them about what their goals are and what they would like to do, I also give them a self-assessment sheet so I can get an idea of where they think they are and a goal sheet to indicate where they would like to go.
I am always trying to get players to be self motivated and to take more charge of their training as they get older and I am going to outline the process here for any of you who are interested. As I have already mentioned most of my players are already aware of the basics in drafting a season plan but for those who are going to do their own I describe the process along the lines of planning a journey and the season plan will end up being the map.
This may seem obvious when likening the process to planning a journey but sometimes the obvious gets overlooked. Players are made up of many different aspects their technical ability is important but their tactical, physical, mental and lifestyle are just as important when considering the athlete as a whole.
As a coach I am always looking at these aspects seeing where athletes can improve but it is just as important for me to understand how the athlete themselves perceives these as well. I might well think an athlete appears confident when approaching a match situation but the athlete themselves may have a very different outlook being aware of this is crucial to developing their mental fitness. I use a self assessment sheet and along with my own assessment sheet we can look at the various aspects of the individual.
This again is an obvious question when dealing with planning a journey but is not always agreed between a player and their coach. I like to use questions like what is your dream goal. What are your season goals? And what are your short term goals? Through discussion we can then apply the SMARTER goal concept.
The third element is to look at the season calendar and to target the events necessary in order to achieve the goals. The calendar will also provide guidance on the periodisation of the athletes training program. It is also important to include any possible family events, school exams and trips as well as work commitments that the player may have.
Well that is the very rough outline for my athlete season planning process. I will attach some of the questionnaires and assessment sheets I use and I will continue to add to this section as we move through the planning process.
Agreed Physical Conditioning Program
The planning process is now well underway and the first part is to build up the physical fitness base. After some discussion with the athlete we have come up with a weekly program designed to build up their cardio vascular, stamina and core strength. The program will gradually build over the next 6 weeks. The first week has started fairly well but the weather made it difficult to do the outside aspects of the program. the athlete has agreed to a Physical Fitness test at the end of the first week and at the end of the 6 week program. I will post results here when 1st test complete.
The initial weekly program is laid out below:
Day 1: Sport Agility & Power session: distance bounding, vertical bounding, depth jumps, shuttle runs etc. 4 sets.
Day 2: Cycling: short distance including steep climb, 1 rep.
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Sport Agility & Power session: distance bounding, vertical bounding, depth jumps, shuttle runs etc. 4 sets.
Day 5: Running, 2 climbs.
Day 6: Physical Conditioning using basic exercises to develop physical strength. Light weights short reps (30secs)
Day 7: Rest
Agreed Tactical Awareness Program
During last season we took a number of videos of the player in various competitions. The tactical awareness program will require a review of those videos by the player as well as some tactical analysis on the player’s part.
Agreed Lifestyle Program
This is the summer time so it has been agreed that the player can have as much recreational time as possible, social interaction with friends and various activities and events outside of the sport.
Agreed Technical Program
2 Training sessions per week to work on some basic speed, movement & footwork drills and including Service practice.
Agreed Mental Program
Being involved in the planning of the various programs in order to prepare for the season and the “rest” from competition has been agreed to be considered as the player’s mental program at this stage. The process of goal setting for the season ahead is still in development.
2 Weeks after the initial physical training program was established for base fitness, the program has been increased. The running and cycling aspects have been doubled and the strength and power exercise increased by 30%.
A 5 day training camp of hours/day (15hrs) has been completed and a one day on one day off cycle of technical training on specific areas including service, service return and footwork is being implemented. Next week another 5 day camp (6hrs/day) will be used as a pre-competition phase followed by a weeks tapering. The 1st competition will take place on 29th August.