Where the Rubber Meets the Road – The Training Session


You do all your long term planning, your divide the year into training blocks, those blocks are broken down into manageable microcyles then you have to work the plan. Working the plan entails a well designed training session that prepares for all contingencies. It is truly where the rubber meets the road in the implementation of the training plan. In my experience the session can be well planned but the secret for optimizing effectiveness of the plan is actual management of the session. I spend at least twenty minutes a day detailing out that days training session in term of exercise selection, sets, reps and rest between exercise, that is the easy part, it is actually pretty automated. The management of the session is what takes time and attention to detail or chaos will occur. Things like how many med balls we need, how many core trainers, what is the weather all seem like givens, but must be taken into consideration. Facilities can help significantly in managing a session, but I have learned that sometimes you cannot depend on facilities. They changed the lock or another team was scheduled at the same time- now what?

For the last two year with Venice Volleyball we have trained in the parking lot and hallways, certainly not optimal, but we still accomplished effective training sessions. Once gain the management of the session was the key. The captains take an active role in helping because there can be up to 24 players with only one coach, me. The captains and upper class ladies really have been key to management. They are trained to lead certain portions of the workout so that I can coach and give individual attention. Grouping the players is essential to good session management. This year we have the most heterogeneous group we have had, the range is from advanced training ages who have been the through the program for three years to ninth graders who have not training background. In addition there are the individual considerations that must be addressed. For an outsider observing it looks like chaos but at the end of the day we get effective workout. Using white boards is a good management tool. I make my own white boards; I buy 4 x 8 sheets of white laminate from Home Depot and have them cut into four sections. We meet before the start of the session and go over the workout on the board and then I point out any individual exceptions or adaptations. The burden is on the athlete to remember those. I use the Finis Circuit Trainer to control the time segments of the workout; I find that the loud horn keeps me on track relative to the time allotted. I structure the sessions so total concentration is required, there is no standing around, recovery is active or you are coaching your partner. I want the kids coaching each other, because that forces them to concentrate as well as build team camaraderie. I let them play music, but the music is off during instruction. Yesterday was our last session in the weight room without walls, Monday we start in a new facility, an actual weight room. Somehow it won’t be the same. It presents some different management problems, we will be in there with the football team, a big distraction, no pun intended. We will still do our throws and jungle gym work outside, overall it should be a big improvement.
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Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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