Coaches' perceptions of the benefits of using performance speed to determine training zones for surf lifesaving competition
Introduction The aim of this study was to determine coaches’ perceptions of the use of performance speed for the calculation of training zones for surf lifesaving competition. Performance speed here is defined as the average speed an athlete can maintain during a time trial or actual event (Sharkey & Gaskill, 2006). Times and distances can be converted to average speed, allowing simple calculation of interval and training speeds. Another alternative to assess performance speed involves the use of GPS monitors to calculate actual speed during testing. Methods Three coaches at a surf lifesaving club on the Gold Coast, Australia utilized performance speed in the application of training zones for athletes involved in board, ski and boat competitions over a two-year period. Time trials were conducted on a monthly basis to determine performance speed on “out-and-back” river courses in order to negate the effect of currents and tides. GPS monitors were attached to all craft to determine average performance speed over these distances. Training was divided into four zones - easy (EZ), no-training (NZ), performance (PZ) and maximal training (MZ). The following percentages of performance speed were used in calculating the speeds for each zone (Sharkey & Gaskill, 2006): EZ (20-30% below performance speed); NZ (2-20% below performance speed); PZ (1-5% above performance speed); and MZ (maximal speed for 5-20 seconds). A semi-structured interview was utilised to gather information related to the coaches’ perceptions of the effectiveness of this approach to training. Results The mean improvement in time trials over a two-year period was 9.8%. Coaches indicated that athletes displayed a positive attitude to training using this approach. In comparison to other methods of training, the coaches suggested that that this approach was simple for athletes to understand. Coaches enjoyed the increased ability to control the intensity of training, using mainly the EZ and PZ zones, which resulted in positive improvements for all athletes and no injuries were recorded. Coaches also appreciated that outputs in training were measurable, which assisted athlete understanding of the relevance of training to their competition goals. Discussion Many coaches of endurance sports face practical challenges and/or uncertainties when using training zones to determine appropriate intensities and volumes for their athletes. The simplicity and specificity of this approach proved appealing to coaches and athletes as they could see the relevance of the training zones to training, recovery and competition, and were motivated by observing regular improvement in time-trial performances. References Sharkey & Gaskill (2006). Sport Physiology for Coaches. Human Kinetics: Champaign, ILL.
19th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science
Human Movement and Sports Science