Thoughts on Recovery – Part One


I want to preface this series of posts with some global comments . Today recovery has taken on a life of it own, with recovery sessions planned after remedial workouts that minimally stress the athlete. There are now muti-million dollar recovery centers manned by recovery specialists. Is all this necessary? I have my questions. Recovery must be put in the perspective of the training and the training age of the athlete. In this series of posts I will lend my perspective on recovery which will hopefully provide a better understanding of the role and the process as well as stimulate some healthy discussion.

Recovery is a key factor in performance. It is during the recovery that adaptation to training occurs. Recovery is the process over time needed to repair damage to the body caused by either training or competition. After the work the rest should be easy, sometimes it is not because it is not thought of as part of the training process. To insure the highest quality training and to prevent overtraining, recovery must be planned as part of the training process. In some instances it is beneficial to build the workout around the recovery for athletes who are finely tuned and in absolutely peak condition. It does no good to give an athlete a workout that they could handle and then not be able to come back and do anything significant for days afterward. The key to all of this is the necessity to assess the athletes “recoverability,” which is how well they were able to recover from the different workloads. Do this both subjectively and objectively. No two athletes recover and adapt from the same workout the same way. In fact athletes react individually to different types of work. The recovery strategy must match the type of fatigue. Some athletes are fast adapters and recover quite quickly; others are slow adaptors and take significantly longer. This is easy to address in an individual sport, but can present a managerial problem in a team sport. The means of assessment of recoverability is to closely monitor training and the response to training.

Restoration is a series of planned actions to bring the athlete back to baseline. Activities or external means that help the athlete physically or psychologically overcome the rigors of hard training. Regeneration is an active process, it is the means used to bring the athlete back to baseline. This is an actual planned training unit to help the body recover from training and to return to previous performance levels through removal of mental and physical fatigue due to training and competition efforts.

Rest is time off with no training at all. For the athlete this is a poor alternative. The body is accustomed to a certain level of activity. When that is taken away it is a shock to the body. It interferes with appetite, sleep and general mood state. Complete rest makes the return to training more difficult. Rather than restoring the body the athlete coming off a day or longer of complete rest is flat. A much more viable alternative is active rest. In active rest the “muscles work, nerves rest.” It is time off from the regular activities of training. “Active” refers to other sports activities. For example the play a game of pickup soccer or the swimmer may go for a bike ride. It is absence from abuse not absence from activity but still gives the athlete the stimulus activity that does not stress the system.

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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