When it comes to player and athlete load, it is never a straight forward scenario. A player’s load is not only physiological (physical), so consideration also needs to be given for the psychological (cognitive) and psycho-social (emotional) load. These three aspects of load are interconnected.
Load is split into two different areas:
- External Load – the overall total work completed by the body, over a period
- Internal Load – the physiological and psychological stress imposed upon the body’s systems
When a player or athlete is working beyond their individual capability and continues to add increasing stressors on their body, with inadequate recovery and rest periods, overload is likely to occur and result in declined performances and increased risk of injury.
The physical demands of sport and training, plus the social demands of life, schooling, social environment and any emotional strains, all interconnect and impact upon a player’s overall load and general wellbeing.
We need to develop players in a holistic and proven manner, focusing on the participation, age and stage that is appropriate for a particular player’s skill development, health, wellbeing, progression and pathway.
Rules of thumb to assist with managing player load
All trainings and games should be pain-free, for every player with no exception.
Training sessions should be quality and not quantity. This will assist in avoiding overload and overload injuries.
Utilise Smart Sessions – if a sport session isn’t intense enough, then it is best to complete it with some extra intervals or shuttles at the end of this session, instead of adding in another session later in the week.
It is essential that our developing and growing players have one rest day per week. Rest and recovery days may be a full rest day or include a light, non-weight-bearing session (e.g. bike or pool).
Thorough recovery practices and sleep are important.
At the end of tournaments, all players need to have a minimum of 2-3 days stand down from all sport and training, to enable the body rest and recovery time from the workload of the tournament, before heading back into their normal schedule.
The day after the tournament, players should complete a pool recovery and active stretching or rolling session.
During tournaments, players do not need to complete their normal weekly trainings as well – just continue any rehab or strengthening exercises.
When deciding what sports or activities to begin, have your child write down what their week will look like in a diary, so that they can see for themselves how much activity and rest they will have.