Coaching a multi-sport athlete is an arduous task. In designing a training programme that caters to one’s specific sport and specific skill, and individualising it becomes even more challenging. Each sport has its own energy and skill set demands, and players involved in a multi-sport may be stronger or weaker in certain areas based on the other sport they play. Designing the right training programme can help these athletes excel in every sport they compete.
How it starts is by getting to know the athlete through various means. The most recommended protocol would be asking the athletes to fill up a simple questionnaire. Knowing the past history of athletes in training, injuries, lifestyle, specialised training on various components of fitness, diet regime, and their short/mid/long-term fitness goals are the few examples to ask. The mindset of an athlete can also be understood to an extent with psychological preparedness questions. Each department is a highly specialised vertical and a good debriefing session plays an important role in understanding the athlete.
Once the screening process is done through these questions, designing the fitness testing according to the sport and skill would be recommended. There may be certain crossover from the other sport the athlete is involved in, nevertheless, it’s great to collate maximum data regarding the player, which helps in deciphering his or her needs on various components of fitness needed to train and excel.
Knowing the other sports an athlete is playing is key because it will help you understand the demands that are being placed on them.
There can be muscle imbalance/repetitive movements causing injuries or improper transfer from one sport to another with no synergy of movements. There can be a positive, neutral or negative transfer of psychological and physiological parameters from one sport to another. Once this is deciphered, it’s easy to design a schedule for peak performance.
One of the most overlooked aspects of training is the muscle imbalance from one sport to another. Sorting it out through proper biomechanical assessment and pertinent to sport can solve most of the issues regarding muscle imbalance and injury prevention. Participation of athletes in multi-sport develops a good resilience against injuries.
Exercise protocols according to the season, taking into consideration short/mid/ long-term goals with positive transfer of fitness parameters, is crucial for peak performance. Modification of exercise regime according to the chronology is an art for the older athletes to prolong their career and hit the right performance domain.
Constant feedback mechanism through data collection and debriefing sessions with players on their subjective fitness components that need to be developed plays an important role in a comprehensive development. There should be no stone unturned in execution for peak performance through collective analysis.
Since players involved in multi-sport have an edge over the single sport professional at least at the early stage, a multi-dimensional approach for an overall athletic development is recommended for early age.
Progressive analysis and constant updating of data and proper inference of the data is essential to hit the right chord in strength and conditioning parlance.
Choose the right sport — here are a few pointers
* Choose the sports which complement each other — positive transfer of skill and fitness.
* Playing both sports in a single season can be counterproductive on various fronts. An individual sport or team sports can lead to overuse injuries. It is bound to affect both psychologically and physiologically in the long run.
* Training through the season if there is no off-season. The main point to focus is on maintaining and developing overall athleticism.
* Skill sets need to be sharpened on a priority basis. For example, for a football player who is into tennis or badminton in a different season, it is recommended to spend two or three days a week putting in 30 to 45 minutes of football skill work. The same principle can be applied to other sports, too. There may not be considerable skill development, but it keeps one from injuries and not burnout after 15-20 minutes of play.
* Never overdo during the transition phase. Temptation to overdo can be tricky. Even if the fitness parameters are all addressed already, the transition phase has to be used for proper recovery process to be ready for the next season.
* Finding the right off-season is a must. There is a need to sacrifice one off-season to develop the right fitness parameters through rest and recovery and for developing speed, agility or explosive power. It’s a tough call, for sure, but for peak performance one needs to address this issue in tandem with the coach and the management. A right, balanced approach is the professional way for the desired long-term results.