High Performance Training for Athletes
A high-performance training program is designed to refine the skills and performance of individuals participating at a high level. The main aim is to develop and enhance the physical capability of athletes.
The athlete and coach, work in tandem to develop a strength and conditioning program that targets the physical needs of the athlete. Usually gym-based training designed to improve total body power is used, as well as conditioning training designed to enhance cardiovascular performance, running acceleration, speed, change of direction and elevation as appropriate.
A structured program for athletes leads to fewer injuries. A system can be set in place to screen all athletes to determine their movement competency and power profile to ensure a program which appropriately challenges their abilities. The athlete is closely monitored to ensure that improvements in power and cardiovascular fitness contribute to performance and not to injury. The strength and conditioning program includes working closely with the athlete’s support team to ensure the best physical enhancement.
The 4 main types of training are aerobic, anaerobic, flexibility and strength training.
- Aerobic training includes continuous activities, such as running, swimming, circuit training and long-interval training. Aerobic training involves training the larger muscle groups (e.g. legs) to efficiently combine with the cardiorespiratory system to supply a higher volume of oxygen to the working muscles and therefore improve performance.
- Anaerobic training involves high-intensity, short-duration exercise (such as interval training). This method is characterised by repeated bursts over short distances at high intensity and are designed to improve the two anaerobic energy pathways.
- Flexibility training can be used to increase the range of motion of a joint
- and reduce the likelihood of an injury and muscle soreness. The appropriate method to use depends on the specific nature of the sport or activity involved and can be used to develop an individual’s flexibility and improve overall performance as a result.
- Strength training is used for many conditions. Resistance training is the method used to increase the amount of force a muscle can exert and results in an increase in the size of skeletal muscle. For strength to develop, resistance is applied to muscles as they contract. This resistance can take many different forms such as the person training using their own body weight, free weights, weight machines, and elastic bands.
The wide range of services which can be provided for high performance athletes includes:
- Dietary assessment – evaluation of an athlete’s current food intake to identify deficiencies and areas for development
- Nutrition planning – individualised food plans to support training, promote recovery, maximise performance and achieve weight manipulation. A skilled nutritionist can ensure athletes adopt the best nutritional strategies for performance in their chosen sport.
- Menu planning – for athletes who travel
- Supplement advice – education and advice about supplements.
High Performance athletes need a plan to achieve their full potential in the sporting arena. This may include seeking out a specialised team of sports professionals, who will partner with the athlete in coordinating the effective level of support, and regular updating of plans.
The main professional groups in a rehabilitation team are sports physicians, physiotherapists, masseurs, and chiropractors.
- The sports physician is a specialist in sports medicine. They are skilled medical practitioners with a wide knowledge of all aspects of medicine and of athlete behaviour. They have a broad knowledge of physiology, anatomy, psychology, psychiatry, pathology and can treat a broad spectrum of issues relating to the athlete. They apply their skills to the management of these issues and are initially responsible for injury diagnosis, injury treatment, prevention and rehabilitation.
- Sports doctors are general practitioners with a post-graduate diploma in Sports Medicine, and may have a strong role in the health team, with expertise in illnesses and general medical care of the athlete.
- Physiotherapists provide assessment and management of conditions relating to the interactions between the nerves, muscles and skeleton. This may involve examination and rehabilitation via various treatments as required by the condition of the athlete.
- Chiropractors also provide skills in assessment and management of conditions relating to the nerve, muscular and skeletal system. The chiropractor’s art is clearly related to the skills of mobilisation and manipulation to the spine and peripheral joints.
- Masseurs – provide soft tissue assessment and management. Their skills enhance injury management and are also used in prevention and before and after training massage.
High quality training is imperative to ensure athletes are prepared for high performance results. The methods of training used depends on factors such as the movement, skill and precise demands of the activity in question.
There are different types of training particularly developed to increase flexibility and to strengthen aerobic and anaerobic volume, which are related to the principles of training and systems of energy.
Coaches and athletes must be at one with their purpose and goals in the high performance program and follow through to achieve the athletes goals.