- On April 27, 2016
The great thing about our job is that we get to work alongside many of the best coaches in the world. Whilst many coaches have their own unique methods for optimising their athletes, they all agree on one thing – maximising athlete motivation leads to the greatest improvements.
Maximising athlete motivation is not simply about motivating them to do more. The concept of “more is better” is rarely true – it is actually the quality that really counts, especially with HIT.
If you are talking specifically about speed and agility work, plyometrics or other high intensity forms of training, then quality is everything. The core principle of in improving athletes is overload. That is, in order for any aspect of fitness to improve, it must be pushed to the limits. Therefore, if you want your high intensity training to work, it must simply be done at 100% of maximal effort and quality. Anything less and you are doing ineffective training which only serves to increase the athletes’ risk of injury.
Tip #1: Make Sure They are Ready
The first key is to make sure your athletes are fresh, well rested and even capable of running at maximum speed. This means timing your HIT sessions within your week to follow rest days and make sure they have adequately recovered from the last game. If not you risk serious soft tissue injuries. How do you do this? Firstly you should be tracking things like training load and making your own assessments of how well rested your athletes should be. Secondly, subjective measures of soreness, fatigue and energy levels should be tracked over time using an Athlete Management System. Finally, some of our more clever clients actually measure an athlete’s readiness to enter a HIT session, by using short but effective tests such as a drop-rebound jump or repeated jump using SMARTJUMP, or a short, accurately timed sprint following the warm up using their SMARTSPEED system.
Tip #2: Objective, Accurate Feedback
Athletes love feedback, especially when it is enriched with accurate and objective information. This should not just be limited to testing days 2-3 times per year. If you start using electronic timing in all of your training sessions, you will see an instant increase in motivation and effort. You can do it with a stopwatch sure, but the athletes know that is not accurate and objective – and it simply doesn’t work as well. Plus you then have to stand around yelling out times from a stopwatch.
Tip #3: Competition – Bring Out the Natural Athlete Instinct
The best way to motivate athletes is to let them compete against each other, and against themselves. With a wireless multiple lane timing system, you can run ALL of your speed work through your timing gates and generate a truly competitive environment. With SMARTSPEED’s many reactive drills, you can create sport specific situations for confrontation, racing and all of the things you would usually only get during games.
Tip #4: Variety – Keep it Interesting
Athletes get bored easily. They want training which is fun, different, and always changing. The simple act of even using lights to challenge athletes will change the tone of your sessions immediately. I’ll never forget the first time I pulled out the first prototype SMARTSPEED gates at my Rugby club and the lights lit up – 100% effort instantly. And every session after that I used the gates in every session for at least 2 drills, and kept mixing it up just by changing game rules, cutting angles and skills/distractions. These days there are literally 100s of SMARTSPEED drills out on Youtube that are unlike anything your athletes will have ever seen.
Tip #5: Meaningful Data, Quickly
Getting athletes to record their monitoring and training data is a huge challenge. Why? Because usually it is difficult, and they get nothing back in return. A lot of database products are guilty of becoming huge black holes for information – taking the data but giving little or nothing back. With our SMARTABASE athlete management system clients, we constantly try to remind them to use the features of the software that will reward athletes for their cooperation, with immediate feedback, and powerful reports on their personal bests and changes in performance.
As the famous Vince Lombardi quote goes, “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect”. When it comes to HIT, nothing could be truer. When done well, HIT is known to be the most effective way to improve athlete fitness and performance. When done badly, it simply leads to more fatigue and injuries. Timing gates should not be something you dust off a few times a year for formal fitness testing. Providing real-time accurate feedback in your training sessions on a daily basis alone will instantly transform your sessions and you will instantly see the improvement in effort and quality. Tracking this data over time is also important, to show athletes when they are improving, motivating them to strive for every inch of speed in their sessions. Fusion Sport products