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Jan 17 2017 - Performance Practice 2
Coming up this Sunday (the 22nd). Is our 2nd Performance practice of the indoor season, once again in Moncton at the CEPS facility. Which includes another series of great clinics after the open training time.
Coaches: In attempt to maximize the time for our coaches those in attendance for the clinics and classroom section will receive NCCP professional development points. In order to make sure these get recorded for your please email Jason Reindl at email@example.com
Jan 6 2017 - Linking Competition Data with Practice Data
Last month the topic of competition data was looked into and shed light on how at varying developmental stages recording and reflection of competition data is an important part of the performance process. Through analysis and reflection on an athletes’ performances during competition the coach, athlete, and support team can better understand the strengths of the athlete, current limitations that help identify what should be prioritized in training, and also individual nuances such as performance trends during the season.
Recording and reflection of practice data and linking to competition data allows for a similar process of generating information and insights to aid in the performance planning process. How many meters were run in practice at required velocities? How many throws landed within the sector during the last training cycle? How many foot fouls occurred? Practice performance can be creatively broken down and assessed in a number of ways depending on the goals of the athlete and coach with targets established and progressed towards. Sometimes these goals are objectively determined (times, heights, distances, fouls) but at other times this is more subjective such as assessment of good or not quite up to the level required. So how can we, as coaches, influence this process?
The primary recommendations are to discuss with the athlete the goals for the practice and how this is linked to competition. Come to a consensus on how practice success will be determined and record this in some form (excel file or training journal). For a younger athlete, it might be based on effort, what they learned, or even if they had fun. Having the athlete keep track of how many practices were above the desired effort level is a simple way to determine and empower the athlete to realize if consistent practice efforts and focus goals are being met. For an older athlete, it could be hitting a certain number of race pace splits, keeping the number of fouls during practice under five or clearing all heights during high jump practice, achieving a new 30m fly best, or a more appropriate takeoff angle, all of which can and should link back to the competition performance goals or barriers. This process allows for self-reflection by the athlete, program reflection by the coach, and determination of priorities, goals, and areas that might need to be solved with more creative ideas.
For the female 400m hurdle athlete introduced last month a large percentage of 2016 practice goals centered around performance (time) to the first 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 hurdles as determined by competition goals. In the hurdle events a variety of touchdown charts exist (example) and they help to link overall event performance with benchmarks throughout the race. In this case her competition goal of 60-61 seconds, which was determined through analysis of previous national junior championships and Canada games, yielded approximate hurdle touchdown goal times: 6.9s would be needed at hurdle one, 11.9s at hurdle two, 16.9s at hurdle three, 21.9s at hurdle four, and 27.0s at hurdle five (for a 60.0s performance). In one workout (three weeks out from the national championships) she did the following workout (2x blocks to H1, 2x blocks to H2, and 1x blocks to H5) with the following results:
1 (to 1)
2 (to 1)
3 (to 2)
4 (to 2)
5 (to 5)
“What gets measured gets managed” or “what doesn’t get measured doesn’t get managed” are two common quotes attributed to either Lord Kelvin or Peter Drucker depending on the source being used. Keeping these quotes in mind and reflecting on the above workout the following was determined:
· The athletes’ overall capacity to perform at the required level (approximately 6.9s) to the first hurdle was in place. This suggests her physical, technical and tactical abilities (speed, strength, power, hurdle ability, stride rate, length, and rhythm) were stabilized from the start to the first hurdle (0-45m). As the first hurdle sets up the race this was a key priority during the season and having confidence that she can repeat this on demand was a major part of the performance planning process.
· The athletes’ capacity to perform at the required level (approximately 11.9s) to the second hurdle was also in place.
· The athletes’ capacity to perform at the required level through hurdles one to five was adequate but not quite at the 60s-performance level. This suggests that a limitation exists that is a barrier to performance. Through reflection it was determined that greater physical capacities (speed, strength, stamina) are the areas to be developed in order to perform at the levels required for the entire 400m distance in 60s.
· Using video of the workout repetitions it was clear that the athlete was running with a consistent number of strides (17) between hurdles two, three, four, and to five allowing her to use her right lead leg (preferred lead leg) which allows to her to be as efficient as possible and not cause increased levels of fatigue during performance.
Heading into the national championships we (coach and athlete) reflected on the previous workouts, video, data, and felt confident that we were prepared to compete for a spot in the finals. Knowing that if we got to the finals greater emotional stimulus might facilitate a breakthrough performance. Everything leading up to this point in time gave us confidence that we were prepared no matter the situation (weather, lane, time of day). Unfortunately, we fell just short of that objective performance goal by one spot finishing 9th overall. However, while disappointing on the surface this result was a personal best, broke three provincial records (U20, U23, and Senior), was her best result at the national championships to date in the intermediate hurdles, and was executed very well with zero stride adjustments needed during the race (evaluated multiple times through video after the race). The integration of competition and practice data did confirm that technical and tactical abilities were in place for greater levels of performance and that approximately 80% of all workouts focused on the first half of the race. While the athlete learned, and stabilized her abilities over the first half of the race this percentage will need to adjust to reflect a greater emphasis on overall physical capacities and second half of event performance in order to approach and surpass 60 seconds in 2017.
In conclusion, practice data and linking it to competition data aids the process of planning for performance for all event areas, all athletes, and all developmental stages. Improvements in abilities and subsequent performance do not happen by luck or chance. Research, analysis, record keeping, planning, creativity, thinking outside of the box, and reflection are all key components that need to be accounted for during practice as practice facilitates competition performance. Athletes and coaches should be recording practice details beyond the basic workout numbers (sets, reps, volume, intensity, and rest intervals).
This article is the third of a monthly segment called Coaching Connection. If you are looking for additional ideas or assistance with any of the details above, do not hesitate to reach out to author. Additionally, ideas for future topics and if you would like to contribute to this medium please contact Coaching Education Director Jason Reindl at firstname.lastname@example.org
Link to one example of hurdle touchdown charts: http://atfcaviccoaches.org.au/wpblog/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Touchdown_Tables.pdf
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