Now that we clarified what including a regeneration workout or even a whole phase can do for your strength and performance, in today’s article I’ll explain why assessment is a crucial part of strength and conditioning.
“Courage. It’s more admirable than any other quality. And we have it.”
Who thought we'd be quoting Eamon? But he is right. Ireland do have courage. On occasion. As likable as the Management team is though, they very often lack courage. Martin O'Neill has not changed his approach in 25 years of coaching. That's a lack of courage. Change is hard.
I'm in the business of change and it is extremely hard. It’s confronting. I wonder if Martin has ever assessed his approach at the end of a season. His qualities are obvious. Gives players confidence, he is likable, he gives his team emotional connection and purpose. Occasionally. The one thing about his team is they are always inconsistent. That for me shows a lack of preparation. A lack of reflection and an unwillingness to assess and change.
"Remember that nothing will change if you don't. Positive Change requires purposeful and consistent actions." - Unknown
If you want to improve, assessment and change are going to be central. Not that you try to re-invent the wheel, just you add a bit here, lose a bit there. But it takes courage to change. First of all it takes courage to look at weaknesses.
Recently well put by a peer in Sports Performance game:
"Train strengths to the physiological limit, train weaknesses to the psychological limit" - Pierre-Jean Vazel
how do you assess?
Well assessment is ongoing. One very definite way is to record your performance shortly afterwards (but not immediately). Have a notebook. If you want to improve as a hurler, camogie player or footballer you will need some critique. And this is a difficult balancing act.
You must be honest with yourself, but not harsh or unrealistic. Writing notes down as you go through the seasons is a huge help. It’s a point of reference. You will not remember everything. It also is good to go back and see where you were and how you progressed.
I have coaching session notes from as long ago as 2000 that I recently found in my parents’ house. I have been recording training sessions for that long. It’s funny as I found a point around 2006 where I probably became too technical for a while.
This funnily enough coincided with becoming more educated. I probably had too much information. But to look back and see that is hugely helpful. It will hopefully restrain me from doing that again. Of course, I learned on the job as I noticed my team's decision making and flow had actually gone back. I was over coaching. That kind of assessment is hard and confronting, but needed if you want to move on.
You can also talk to coaches, parents, friends who you trust to give honest assessments on game day performances. Avoid people who either overly praise or are overly critical though.
But that's subjective assessment. And it’s sports performance specific which is what it's all about so it’s important.
Physical assessment is another thing. While we don't want too much reductionism in-season and we want our practice and preparation to be as entangled with the sport as possible, in off-season we can break things down into smaller bites and try and improve them in a more closed fashion. This may involve skills as well, striking off the left, kicking both sides etc. But for the purpose of this series we will look at physical development.
What do we want?
Cold hard facts.
Here are some things you can get done;
Do you need them all? No. Cardiac Power and Power Outputs would be a concern for the very experienced.
For a young player with a low training age an Aerobic Capacity test and Movement Assessment would be ideal. If they move well, they can do some serious strength training.
If not then that movement must be addressed first, starting from the basics, possibly using bodyweight strength training first, then progress from there.