The good coach, it is the one who… (1/3)

In the world of training, detail prevails. It is not for nothing that we are interested in the athlete’s program (distance, volume, etc.) as much as the way he responds to it (heart rate, feeling, etc.) or his daily routine (quality of life, sleep, etc.). If it were then enough for the coach to “weigh” these different details to understand their effects on performance, it would be obvious. A game of additions and subtractions would suffice… On the contrary, the attitude to adopt towards an athlete remains difficult to determine. Here is a series of three articles that aim to objectivize/encourage certain principles of effectiveness specific to any sport performance intervention.

 

Because of a follow up of the athlete which is always partial (for ethical and practical reasons), there are systematically discrepancies between the coach’s intentions and the real effects of training on the athlete. For example, the planned session could aim at high physiological solicitation and low muscle tension, but ultimately induce physiological AND muscular constraints that will be detrimental to the assimilation of other training sessions. And this discrepancy applies to both the “overload” and “underload” principles.

This type of difference is the basis for regulating training from week to week, or even day to day. The aim of this regulation is to optimize the effects of future training in relation to past training by manipulating the various parameters available (material, training load, recovery, etc.) – the objective being always to get as close as possible to the coach’s initial intentions.

However, any regulation starts with a diagnosis. And in order to make a diagnosis, unless an exhaustive scientific culture coupled with solid experience and a part of gift, it will be essential to rely on measurement tools as a decision-making aid. For example, blood measurements can be used to quantify lactatemia, blood sugar levels… but they are incompatible with regular training. Another example: the athlete’s feelings can be very useful… but is also biased by reactions that are not important for training.

 

Today, the diversity of measures makes it possible to categorize them according to several axes. These axes, each coach knows them unconsciously because they condition his choices. Choices often simple (cardio, GPS watch, perceptions), sometimes complex (accelerometer, urinary/salivary/blood/gas measurements), but always complementary. Based on this complementarity, here is a “filter” to select your training tools and make them operational measuring devices in the training regulation process.

Efficiency: tools that combine Efficacy and Speed of use by the coach or athlete (less than 5-10′).

Administration: tools that are easy to use and can be calibrated at will.

Cost: tools that require little financial, equipment and/or human resources.

Solicitation: Tools that do not interfere with the athlete’s training program (i. e., not tiring).

Scalability: tools that allow the tracking of a single athlete as well as several athletes simultaneously.

Non-invasive: tools that do not generate fear in athletes, wounds or infectious risks.

Reliability: tools that measure only what they are supposed to measure, without possible interference with other markers/substances.

Sensitivity: tools that effectively detect even the most insignificant variations.

 

This filter system makes it possible to isolate the tools that can be easily inserted into the coach’s daily life. This selection is always at the service of the same priority issue for the coach: injury prevention.