In-season Training – Applications


I will cover some do’s and don’ts gathered from my experience. Lets start with the obvious; you must work closely with the sport coach. As athletic development coaches we are support staff, the sport coach is on the one on the spot, the final product is a judgment of his or her work. We must be sensitive to that fact. Everything we due must be subservient to practice and games. Start by meeting with the sport coach and get a very good handle on their expectations for training in-season.

I then look at the competition schedule and classify the games/matches as developmental, important or crucial. Developmental means a competition that should not be difficult (Mind you that you should never take any opponent for granted). Important are games that will test the team’s mettle and count in the standings. Crucial should be obvious, big games or matches, play-offs or championships.

Once that has been determined I break the season into ten or fourteen day microcyles. I have found that getting away from the traditional seven-day cycle solves the density dilemma and allows me a better distribution of the work. Then I group the players, by individual needs and by position. The actual training consists of modules rather than individual exercises. Modules consist of four to six exercises or drills designed to address specific qualities and needs. I have found that this approach makes constructing the workouts more directed and allows me to insert various modules in strategic places as needed.

Look closely at the practice plan and look for places within the practice that afford opportunities for athletic development modules. Obviously this must be closely coordinated with the coach. I have found this to be particularly effective to address individual player needs. I have also had success with plugging in a specific module that was three to five minutes long that was used to enhance the subsequent sport specific drill. To do this requires trust from the sport coach.

In regard to strength training the emphasis should change based on the time of the competitive season. It is important to note that strength training does not always have to be after practice. With an athlete or team that has a good training background a well designed targeted session before a practice or even a game or a match can be very beneficial in terms of neural stimulus. Also implement the “weight room without walls” concept. Do the strength training on the field or the court. It works.

Flexibility needs to be addressed daily on an individual needs basis. It can be done before workout if it is active, but true flexibility development is best-done post practice when the body is still warmed up.

It is advisable to have pre-practice routines where individual players or small groups work with the Athletic Development coach to address specific needs. This should be no longer than fifteen minutes. This has worked quite well for me over the years. Directed, focused work designed to meet individual needs has a profound cumulative training effect.

In a latter post I will address specific in regard to speed development, fitness and share some actual plans.
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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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