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Category Archives: Return To Play

This week we introduce our final installment of the Return to Play series of how weight room technology can help get athletes back and better than ever with # 6: Enhance a Competitive Atmosphere, Safely. Athletes are competitive by nature! Coaches love a good competition, athletes love it too, but sometimes the competitive drive can overpower the body’s need for rest. This is where weight room technology can come in handy to help facilitate competition safely.

ENHANCE A COMPETITIVE ATMOSPHERE, SAFELY

Athletes will most likely be itching to get back to campus, load the barbell up with weight, and lift the same weight they had lifted before they left. If they haven’t touched these loads in months, this can be dangerous. Velocity and power output provides other metrics on which athletes can focus, metrics that aren’t just about brute strength, but focus on explosiveness and speed, attributes that will carry over onto the field of play. These metrics can also be used to compete against themselves and each other day to day, without risking overtraining or injury under load.

No matter what we were doing we were using velocity to measure load. The athletes loved it. It was an easy transition because it created a really competitive environment, it was an easy process for the players. They were competing between racks and really trying to get better.

Tony Smith, Director of Strength & Conditioning, Gaffney High School

By utilizing weight room technology, and velocity based training specifically, athletes can compete with each other on a level playing field. In this way, they’ll be able to bring out the best in each other and do so with coaches watching and the objective metric of velocity or power output informing when fatigue sets in. The introduction of VBT to a weight room environment can help both enhance and facilitate competition, meet athletes where they’re at, and help get athletes better every day.

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This week we are returning with more of our 6 Key Ways Weight Room Monitoring Can Help Return Athletes to Play. Number 5: Increase Frequency of Training. By continually monitoring readiness and fatigue, velocity based training allows athletes to remain healthy and fresh from session to session. Train them with increased specificity, keep them healthy, and you will be able to increase training frequency with an additional velocity metric assisting in dictating session intensity and volume.

5. INCREASE FREQUENCY OF TRAINING

When athletes return to campus, they may only have a few short weeks to get ready for competition. With velocity, a coach can closely monitor strength gains and fatigue. With this information, the coach can safely increase the frequency and monitor the volume of training and be confident that he or she isn’t putting athletes at risk of overtraining. Using velocity to monitor readiness and fatigue will enable coaches to prescribe the appropriate load and volume everytime.

I can work kids out on gameday. I can train them 4 or 5 days a week and I can guarantee it won’t negatively impact their performance with data…They need more development which means they need more frequency and training time. Coaches out of fear of losing performance just don’t give them the reps or the training load they need out of fear of hurting performance.

Spencer Arnold, Director of Strength & Conditioning, Hebron Christian Academy

Studies have shown that Velocity Based Training can yield similar and better sports-performance results than traditional percentage based training and do so with lower volume and load performed (Dorrell, Smith, & Gee, 2019). This is great news from an overall workload perspective. Moreover, by preventing overtraining and reducing injury risk by adhering to an athletes’ abilities, training frequency and session intensity can still remain high by providing just the right amount of stimulus every time. Taking the guesswork out of prescribing volume and intensity enables athletes to perform better both in the weight room and on the field, where it counts the most.

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Welcome back! This week: More of our 6 Key Ways Weight Room Monitoring Can Help Return Athletes to Play with our fourth installment: Lifting Heavy Weights, Safely. Lifting heavy is necessary, but it is important to do so safely in a way that adheres to the athletes’ capabilities daily, velocity can help dictate load, read on for more!

4. LIFTING HEAVY WEIGHTS, SAFELY

Lifting heavy weights is important. It develops key performance attributes that athletes need to perform their sports and prevent injury on the field. The closer an individual gets to their 1RM, the greater risk for injury. Everyone can benefit if nearing the “danger zone” is approached with more accuracy. Coaches can tell their athletes to lift at 0.3 m/s (around 95% of 1RM), and if they never dip below that number, a coach can be certain they aren’t putting their athletes at risk.

I can keep kids with less experience at different speeds and weights for longer to ensure they are proficient at the movement and have a quality base before I progress them and focus on something else.

Brandon Golden, Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach, Eastern Carolina University

MAX STRENGTH AND VBT

In a blog post about VBT and Max Strength a few months ago, we wrote the following: Velocity Based Training is not moving the implement as fast as possible at all times. It is moving the implement with as much intent or effort as possible at all times. VBT is not exclusively moving submaximal loads at maximal speeds. It is optimizing bar speed at varying loads based on specific traits and desired adaptations. VBT is not just velocity-based. It is intent-based [12].

Providing axial loads can help prepare athletes for greater impact on the field, in short: lifting heavy is necessary for overall athletic development. By using velocity and velocity zones, you can ensure the quality you are training for is the quality you are getting. If you profile your athletes (using the protocol below) you will be able to infer a minimum velocity threshold (MVT) for each exercise and know how slow is too slow (and therefore how heavy is too heavy). So go forth and lift heavy! And use velocity zones to make sure the adaptations will be your desired outcome.

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Welcome back! We are continuing to list our 6 Key Ways Weight Room Monitoring Can Help Return Athletes to Play this week with our third installment: Returning to Baselines. With a prerequisite understanding of your athletes capabilities, bringing athletes back can be made simple. Even without prior testing, Velocity Based Training can help return athletes with simple jump testing, load/velocity profiling, and day to day fatigue monitoring.

RETURN TO BASELINES

If a program was using VBT prior to COVID19, and had established athlete baselines and profiles, you would be able to return them to play with confidence. A coach can look at how the athletes are performing now and compare their performance to their original baseline. Without an original baseline, athletes can still be tested upon their return to campus and periodically retested to monitor the trajectory of their performance. Fatigue and readiness can be tracked day to day in the weight room and enable athletes to return to form safely and efficiently.

We collected data all last year. We know exactly how our returning players were performing before they left campus. This gives us a starting point. I know how fast my players should be squatting certain weights. If they are moving less weight at the same speed or the same weight a lot slower, I know we have some work to do to get back to our baseline.

Jeremy Jacobs, Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach, LSU Football

MONITORING ATHLETE PROGRESS

The easiest way to track progress is a simple performance test-retest. Using VBT, an athlete’s load/velocity profile can be tested week to week or phase to phase. Use the parameters below to get started.

If retested, the graph should shift to the right as athletes get more efficient at producing force at speed. See the hypothetical graph below for a better understanding.

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This week we are continuing to list our 6 Key Ways Weight Room Monitoring Can Help Return Athletes to Play. This being the second week of the installment, we have #2: Precisely Prescribing the Intensity of a Workout.

2. PRECISELY PRESCRIBE THE INTENSITY OF A WORKOUT

The weight an athlete lifts during a workout, or intensity, is usually dictated by a percentage of their 1-Rep-Max (1RM) (the most amount of weight an athlete can lift for 1 repetition). However, when athletes return to campus their 1RM will be unknown due to the sporadic nature of their recent training, and therefore it is very difficult to prescribe the proper weight and workout. With VBT, a coach can instead prescribe a velocity and the athlete can find the weight that allows them to lift at that speed, taking the guesswork out of training. Too slow, take weight off. Too fast, add weight.

I don’t need to know what my athlete’s 1RM is or even how much weight they can lift. I know that to maximize peak power, they should be lifting between 0.7 – 0.77 m/s. That’s where they will stay when they return. We have so much insight, it almost feels like cheating.

Noel Durfey, Head Strength & Conditioning Coach for Football, Duke University

PROGRAMMING USING VBT

Strength training and conditioning is a supplementary component to sports performance. Athletes need to perform in their sport. While weight room work can enhance that, chasing numbers in the weight room can be inhibitive as well. Velocity based training can be prescribed to train for specific qualities and the adaptations can be assured when staying in the appropriate VBT zone. Each athlete will have a slightly different speed affiliated with percentage load, but the zones are general recommendations that can help guide programming.

Think of your athletes, the sport, the timeline, and what traits you want to primarily focus on to get your athletes ready. Then use VBT to guide training sessions, monitor athletes closely, and keep progressing. Check out the chart below to get started understanding what speeds relate to what traits for both traditional percentage based training, and velocity based training.

HOW TO USE THIS CHART

  1. Select the trait you want to train for
  2. Enter velocity zone/threshold into your device
  3. Lift!

If you’re above the threshold, add some weight.

If you’re below the threshold, remove some weight.

Using velocity to dictate load will ensure you are providing the appropriate stimulus to yield the desired training adaptations. Every time.

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Last week in our Return to Play from COVID19 blog post, we introduced our 6 Key Ways Weight Room Monitoring Can Hep Return Athletes to Play. For the next six weeks we will be providing more details on each of these ways to help coaches help athletes get back on track quickly and safely.

1. PROFILING AND ASSESSING ATHLETES UPON THEIR RETURN TO CAMPUS

Using a measurement device, such as Perch, coaches can profile their athletes to determine their Force-Velocity or Load-Velocity curve (how explosive an athlete is at various loads). They can use this profile to immediately determine where an athlete is deficient and focus on training these traits. Thereby maximizing a limited training window.

We’ve been able to build FV profiles per positional group and per guy to know what it looks like zoomed out. When they return, we’ll be able to evaluate them. And then we can push the envelope forward or dial back accordingly. But ultimately, these tools allow us as coaches to dial in exactly where we should be or could be and go from there, whenever that time comes.

Aaron Getz, Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach, Duke Football

LOAD/VELOCITY PROFILING

When a load or force-velocity data points are graphed, the resulting slope can inform both efficiencies and deficiencies of that athlete in addition to 1RM predictions, and what qualities the athlete should focus on to enhance their performance.

Building these profiles is simple and can be done in a few minutes either on a day designated for testing, or the data can be continually collected through training and graphed retroactively to understand the athletes’ capabilities. The profile can be referred to as the athlete progresses to understand how they are adapting to the stimulus. It can also help a coach understand when an athlete is having a good or bad day depending on how they perform at specific loads.

To get started building profiles for your athletes, use the protocol below. This will paint a picture and essentially provide a road map that will help you fully understand the day to day capabilities of your athletes. If we can measure something, we can manage it. With expedited windows for pre-season and returning to play after months of sub-optimal training, continual assessment will help deliver these athletes to playing shape safely and quickly.

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We find ourselves in uncertain times with the COVID19 pandemic. Athletes who would otherwise be training under the supervision of their strength & conditioning coaches are at home, making due with minimal equipment, and not competing in their sport. Backpacks that used to carry textbooks from class to class are now being repurposed to add additional load to body weight squats performed in the living room.

No matter how hard your athletes have worked over the last few months, They will be weaker upon returning, and there is no way to predict the range of strength and fitness levels we will see. Combine this with an accelerated return to play timeline, and you have a perfect storm for injury.

 

HOW CAN ATHLETIC PROGRAMS OPTIMIZE THE SMALL TRAINING WINDOWS THEY HAVE SO THAT ATHLETES CAN NOT ONLY RETURN TO PLAY SAFELY WITH A LOWER RISK OF INJURY, BUT ALSO OVERPOWER THEIR COMPETITION?

WEIGHT ROOM MONITORING CAN HELP

Over the last few years, monitoring in the weight room is becoming commonplace. It can take many shapes, but the most common implementation is something called Velocity Based Training (VBT). VBT is a form of strength training that relies upon speed of movement to guide the workout, versus simply the weight the athlete is lifting. After every repetition, a display will show an athlete the exact speed or power output at which they lifted, and in more modern systems , this data gets stored for a coach to view, generate reports, and monitor progress.

There are numerous benefits to VBT, but in short: VBT closes the feedback loop. Instead of a coach relying on subjective feedback (was that lift hard or easy?) or unreliable data they collected from the athletes months prior (such as their previous 1-Rep-Max), VBT gives coaches and athletes immediate feedback – every rep, every workout. If an athlete lifts the weight too slow, take some weight off and prevent overtraining, if the athlete lifts the weight too fast, add weight and take advantage of a good training day.

The thing that I’ve noticed more than anything is how much healthier our guys are by using velocity based training. You’re able to select the optimal weight and the optimal rep range. Programming is so much easier now…because it takes out all the guesswork.

Tommy Moffitt, Head Strength & Conditioning Coach, LSU Football

6 KEY WAYS WEIGHT ROOM MONITORING CAN HELP YOUR ATHLETES RETURN FROM COVID19

1. PROFILING AND ASSESSING ATHLETES UPON THEIR RETURN TO CAMPUS

Using a measurement device, such as Perch, coaches can profile their athletes to determine their Force-Velocity curve (basically how explosive an athlete is at various weights). They can use this profile to immediately determine where an athlete is deficient and focus on training these traits. Thereby maximizing a limited training window.

We’ve been able to build FV profiles per positional group and per guy to know what it looks like zoomed out. When they return, we’ll be able to evaluate them. And then we can push the envelope forward or dial back accordingly. But ultimately, these tools allow us as coaches to dial in exactly where we should be or could be and go from there, whenever that time comes.

Aaron Getz, Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach, Duke Football

2. PRECISELY PRESCRIBE THE INTENSITY OF A WORKOUT

The weight an athlete lifts during a workout (intensity) is usually dictated by a percentage of their 1-Rep-Max (1RM) (the most amount of weight an athlete can lift for 1 repetition). However, when athletes return to campus their 1RM is unknown and therefore it is very difficult to prescribe the proper weight and workout. With VBT, a coach can instead prescribe a velocity and the athlete can find the weight that allows them to lift at that speed, taking the guesswork out of training. Too slow, take weight off. Too fast, add weight.

I don’t need to know what my athlete’s 1RM is or even how much weight they can lift. I know that to maximize peak power, they should be lifting between 0.7 – 0.77 m/s. That’s where they will stay when they return. We have so much insight, it almost feels like cheating.

Noel Durfey, Head Strength & Conditioning Coach for Football, Duke University

3. RETURN TO BASELINES

If a program was using VBT prior to COVID19, and had established athlete baselines and profiles, you would be able to return them to play with confidence. A coach can look at how the athletes are performing now and compare their performance to their original baseline.

We collected data all last year. We know exactly how our returning players were performing before they left campus. This gives us a starting point. I know how fast my players should be squatting certain weights. If they are moving less weight at the same speed or the same weight a lot slower, I know we have some work to do to get back to our baseline.

Jeremy Jacobs, Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach, LSU Football

4. LIFTING HEAVY WEIGHTS, SAFELY

Lifting heavy weights is important. It develops key performance attributes that athletes need to perform their sports and prevent injury on the field. The closer an individual gets to their 1RM, the greater risk for injury. Everyone can benefit if nearing the “danger zone” is approached with more accuracy. Coaches can tell their athletes to lift at 0.3 m/s (around 95% of 1RM), and if they never dip below that number, a coach can be certain they aren’t putting their athletes at risk.

5. INCREASE FREQUENCY OF TRAINING

When athletes return to campus, they may only have a few short weeks to get ready for competition. With velocity, a coach can closely monitor strength gains and fatigue. With this information, the coach can safely increase the frequency and volume of training and be confident that he or she isn’t putting athletes at risk of overtraining. Using velocity to monitor readiness and fatigue will enable coaches to prescribe the appropriate load and volume everytime.

I can keep kids with less experience at different speeds and weights for longer to ensure they are proficient at the movement and have a quality base before I progress them and focus on something else.

Brandon Golden, Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach, Eastern Carolina University

6. ENHANCE A COMPETITIVE ATMOSPHERE, SAFELY

Athletes will most likely be itching to get back to campus, load the barbell up with weight, and lift the same weight they had lifted before they left. If they haven’t touched these loads in months, this can be very dangerous. Velocity and power output provides other metrics on which athletes can focus, metrics that aren’t just about brute strength, but focus on explosiveness and speed, attributes that will carry over onto the field of play. These metrics can also be used to compete against themselves and each other day to day, without risking overtraining or injury under load.

No matter what we were doing we were using velocity to measure load. The athletes loved it. It was an easy transition because it created a really competitive environment, it was an easy process for the players. They were competing between racks and really trying to get better.

Tony Smith, Director of Strength & Conditioning, Gaffney High School

HOW PERCH CAN HELP

Perch uses cameras attached to your weight rack to effortlessly monitor your athletes, provide real time velocity and power output feedback, and store this data to view after the workout. . Previously, VBT has been cumbersome to install and implement. Other devices require tethers and wearables, which can lead to lost time in the weight room and damaged equipment.

Developed at MIT, Perch brings weight room monitoring to the 21st century and provides your coaches and athletes with the information they need to put the best product on the field day after day and week after week. Despite interruptions to training, VBT and Perch will meet athletes where they are and enhance their ability to perform while keeping them safe.

FOLLOW US!

Keep checking back for more velocity based training content, tips, tricks, and tools. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter , Instagram and Linkedin and like us on Facebook .