“Coach, my vertical decreased.” “Why did my 10 yard dash get slower?” “I played well the first half of the game, but in the second I tanked.” 

Coaches have you ever had a new athlete come to you with these questions or concerns? Sometimes even after “grinding” in the gym for months, following a “science based” program, or even training with another coach, an athletes performance doesn’t improve or even gets worse. So, what happened?  As performance coaches, we often celebrate the increases in performance by our athletes, but rarely examine the “why” the performance decreases. Below are two major reason why some athletes see their performance decrease when training.

What is Undertraining?

Undertraining is when an athletes training program or routine does not cause enough stress for the body to adapt to. The purpose of training is to elicit specific stressors that the body adapts to. If the stressors are not at an optimal level for that individual, there will be minimal to no performance increases. This can happen when athletes are continuously prescribed a generic training program that may not be suitable for their physiological ability. An example is performing ten pushups three times a week. To start this might be strenuous, but after three weeks if there is no increase in reps or intensity the body will no longer adapt and there will be no increase in performance. To avoid undertraining, athletes and coaches should use simple methods such as, *RPEscales after training sessions, and the *Daily Readiness test before. These tools can give athletes and coaches an idea of what level of stress was placed on the body during training. 

Lack of Recovery 

There are three recovery pillars: nutrition, sleep, and hydration. From my experience, most if not all athletes don’t spend nearly as much time recovering as they do training. Ideally, the training to recovery ratio is 1:2. This gives the body enough time to adapt to the new stressors of the previous training session and to prepare for the next session.

Simple recovery methods such as eating at least three meals a day, sleeping eight hours each night, and drinking a gallon of water each day is the best prescription for any athlete. Recovery is vital to performance and should be the first topic discussed with athletes as they start a new training program.

Key Takeaways

  • Training is testing. Athletes should be evaluated daily to ensure an optimal training program
  • Athletes should focus on recovery just as much or even more than the training

*RPE Scale 

*Daily Readiness Scale