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Constructing and Designing a Training Session for Sports Teams

Sep 1, 2007
The key to success for any sports program is to carefully plan and implement a well designed and structured training plan.

To do this, several steps need to be followed in order for this to happen successfully:

Design a general plan following the various phases of the season. By doing this, you will be able to carefully plan specific areas to work on depending on which season you are in (pre-season, competitive, post- season). This will also allow athletes to clearly see a structured program that you have set in place for them.

Set specific goals for that particular phase and then create structured training sessions for that period of time (e.g. developing endurance in the pre-season). Experienced coaches know when to change from one training phase to another. For example, strength training is needed before power or plyometrics training. Flexibility is needed before speed training.

Design each individual training session with a specific goal in mind (such as working on agility, power or speed). A training session without any structure or guidance will lead to unsatisfactory results. It's not the amount of time you spend training but the quality and what you get out of it that is important.

Carry out the session by properly instructing and teaching each skill, being organized, punctual and in control of your athletes. Basically, as a coach, you need to lead by example. Your athletes will feed off your drive and motivation to succeed and they will in return give back the effort that you are willing to put in.

Key Tips for conducting a successful training session:
Having a plan is essential.
Design a session using sport specific exercises.
Be organized, if you are not, then your players will notice.
Make it fun and allow your athletes to enjoy their sport.
Be observant in your training sessions.
Teach, coach and instruct your team in a positive way.
Strive to improve on every training session.
Lead by example.
Have a back-up plan if the weather conditions are not suitable.

Specific Goals For Each Training Session:
Give clear instructions on how to perform each skill. Some of your athletes may have already mastered the skill required of them and some may be struggling with the technical aspects of that skill. This is one of the most important aspects for a coach of a team to understand, not all of your athletes respond in the same way!

Demonstrate the skill to the group and then answer questions if asked. Some athletes respond better when a skill is "visually" demonstrated rather than you just describing how to perform the skill.

Carefully plan appropriate drills for the time allocated, that is maximize your time available. Follow strict guidelines on the number of sets, repetitions and rest used in order to maintain a smooth running session.

Include variety into your training sessions, otherwise your athletes will become bored with performing the same drills over and over again. There are many books, guides and ebooks out there on the market that can literally provide you with hundreds of drills which will help you add variety to your programs. Global Sports Coaching for example has the biggest collection of tennis drills available to all tennis coaches.

Show enthusiasm and give positive feedback to your athletes. People perform better and respond in a more positive way when they are given constructive comments rather than continuous criticism.

Make the session fun. Include game-like fitness drills (cross training with another sport). People mostly participate in sports because they find them fun and rewarding. Athletes should be able to work hard and also enjoy their sport.

Perform testing early on in the pre-season and record the progress made by each athlete. Testing is a very important component of any training program as it provides specific information on the progress (or lack of progress) being made.

Once certain goals are met, then increase the number of drills, the intensity, repetitions, sets, and so on to constantly challenge your players.

Have a back-up plan. If you plan a session outdoors and it rains, then have a back-up plan for an indoor session. This is important for some outdoor sports such as tennis or golf. Athletes from these sports can still go inside a sports facility and perform some fitness training or even discuss tactics.

Allow for individual differences between athletes. Some athletes may excel in the speed drills but perform poorly in the strength drills. Set individual goals for each player. Football coaches have learned over the years to split up their athletes according to position or abilities. For example, American college football teams often train with their own individual coaches such as special teams, kicking coach, offensive or defensive coaches.

After each session, make notes on what went well, what needs to be worked on further, record all test scores, and think of ways to improve on the next session.

Check that all of the equipment is in good working order. Besides preventing an accident due to faulty equipment, having your equipment organized will allow for the smooth running of drills and training sessions.

Be sure that the surface is appropriate for the fitness component that you are training. For example, would you take your basketball players out onto the football field to do some cross training knowing that there are pot holes on the playing area and thus leading to increased risk of twisting an ankle? It is often best to conduct your training sessions on the actual surface that you will compete on. For example, tennis players should perform their speed and agility training on the surface they play their matches on.

To be successful as an athlete you must learn how to train at the highest levels in order to achieve this success when in competition. As the old saying goes "Practice How You Want to play."
About the Author
David Horne is a former professional tennis player who has created several online sports web sites including Global Sports Zone which is the Ultimate Sports Directory for all sports fans! You can also visit the global web site for Tennis Coaching at Global Sports Coaching
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