For the coach the training log is an indispensible tool. That is true if it is an individual sport of a team sport. It is a major step toward educating the athlete in how to train. It helps them to learn how they respond to training. I find it is a process that enables them to take ownership of their bodies. That being said if not administered properly it can be a hassle for the coach. Just like the training program it should be simple and straightforward, it should not be a burden for the coach and athlete. In a team sport setting where a coach could have as many 90 athletes it must be a checklist format. The checklist should have the absolute need to know information to assess training stress and training readiness. The following are the items I include in a training log for a team sport:
- Training Demand Rating (Session RPE) – 1 to10 scale with a verbal descriptor, for example 1 = Piece of Cake to 10 = Can’t take another step. I try to put the descriptors’ in terms the athlete can relate that will elicit an accurate rating of the stress of the training session or Competition.
- Night Sleep– Check box with options to check off from < 3hours in two hour increments to more > 8 hours
- Naps– When- Check boxes for morning, afternoon evening and length in 10-minute increments up to one hour.
- Meals– Check off breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks
- Soreness – 1 to 10 rating scale with 1 no soreness to 10 very sore. Check box for muscle or joint soreness, if above 5 they are asked to indicate where by checking appropriate joint or muscle area.
- Recovery– Circle what modality and note duration.
- Major Life Stress – List some braod categories like exams, relationships, family that they circle.
Basically that is what I am interested in, in my system this is the need to know information. I can glance at the information and red flag anything that stands out. Mind you I am also coaching the athlete, watching the training, so I have a visual impression of their training. This can be done online with a database program or done in analog manner with paper and pencil. It demands that you spend time educating the athlete on the meaning of each of the factors and the need for honesty and accuracy in reporting. Orientation to the training log is an essential objective during the first training cycle- part of establishing a training routine; it is part of their routine. How often should you check the information? I have found that except in training camp situations with multiple training sessions it is best to check the logs at the end of every microcycle. Checking session-by-session sometimes distorts the information, it is too easy to take something out of context. You always certainly can ask for more, but here I apply the 3M principles: it must ne manageable, measureable and motivational. I encourage the athletes to keep their own personal log with more detailed information that they think would help them, but this format provides me, the coach, with information that I can then use to adjust their training.