Look good, feel good, play good

I have written this blog with rugby as an example, however I believe it would cross over to many athletes of all levels, especially older athletes who have been training for a long time.

When it comes to strength and conditioning there is a huge amount of scientific/anecdotal information available guiding coaches on how to improve certain physiological qualities, with a view to get every last inch out of an athlete come game day. Some of this information has an affect on how you programme, and can occasionally contradict your beliefs or philosophies on training, but can also add huge value to your programme going forward.

Having been out of rugby for 8 months now my philosophies have certainly been challenged from reading, exploring new training methods, and visiting other coaches to pick up ideas, however I sometimes need to remind myself of how I felt being the other side of the whitewash.

Towards the end of my career I realised that all I needed as a player to stand a chance of playing well was for my body to feel good, and ideally look like I was in good shape. I wasn't chasing any new test scores, I wasn't getting any stronger, I certainly wasn't getting any faster, and it took me ages to recover, so trying to beat my squat 1RM mid-season was of little interest. I had a loose tick-list that if I completed it on a weekly basis, made me feel good.. So here it is.

1. To have done some upper body weights late in the week so I feet tight (as does my shirt)
2. Have sprinted flat out during the week so I felt at my fastest (which wasn't very fast)
3 Little tight in the legs (hammys especially).
4. Have had 8 hours sleep, bed before 11 and up before 9.
5. Just getting peckish as I walked onto the field, last meal 3 hours before kick off.
6. Some naughty house music in the changing rooms.

When athletes have been training for over 5 years they should be very close to the peak of their genetic potential and they should have a good idea on how to train. I believe that after this point it  the job of an S and C coach to maintain these qualities, keep them injury free, and be flexible with how you programme, so they have some control about how they train, and more importantly feel. I'm sure many athletes have a list like mine, and although sometimes not optimal, works for them.
Last week on of the rugby boys asked if they could lift heavier in the week and add a hypertrophy session at the end of the week, as he felt like this is what he needed. It was a player I trust, who is diligent with his training and knows his body, so of course I said yes, and I will programme accordingly. This allows him to get what he wants, and I still have some control over what he is doing week to week, a win win.

I believe this has huge value in how athletes perform, and should be taken into consideration much more of often. It may not always be scientific, but experienced athletes know what makes them tick better than I do.

Let me know if you have a tick-list.