Recently, I had a discussion about tapering sprinters before a big meet with a friend and fellow coach. Our training volumes and workouts were very similar leading up until the last two weeks until conference. It was in these last two weeks that we begun to have differing opinions. I was leaning towards a taper the week prior to conference and he was leaning towards tapering the week of conference
I’ve found post rest week results to be better sometimes too but for logistical reasons, I generally keep my testing during the unloading week. As for competitions and unloading, I still like to keep a steady high stimulus right up to the day prior to the meet. It’s not unusual to be doing acceleration development and high intensity plyos the day prior to or even the morning of a meet. In fact, I will even sometimes include some near max cleans the day prior to a meet for some of my more advanced athletes. I’ve really found over the years that MOST athletes who have adapted to high training loads need to keep the training stimulus relatively high or risk a neuro-endocrine crash and subsequent performance meltdowns. Athlete’s that don’t have a high pre-existing training capacity will often do better with doing very little during the taper.
Wow…three weeks. In my opinion that causes a couple big issues:
â€¢The previously mentioned neuro-endocrine crash, especially at the start of the drop-off.
â€¢That’s right around the time period where you’ll start to see some noticeable de-training of strength qualities.
â€¢If you miss the peak or should need to continue training following the “peak” then the athlete is in for some hellish soreness once they resume training. Similarly, what do you do if you have to peak at Regionals to qualify for Nationals….does that then mean you’re not lifting for 5 straight weeks? A similar situation would arise between the indoor season and outdoor season.
Male or Female athlete is a question here. Big gender differences in neuro/endo/psych and responses to changes in training.
Team tapers are tough when the bulk of kids are Conference level but others may have higher (later) goals. And what do you do with the kid (you backed off) who goes out and drops a bomb on the rest of the field on the appointed Saturday which finds him/her advancing to another week, 2, 3?
To plan an effective taper you have to have a command of the “tipping point”. By that I mean at what point do the benefits of taper become outweighed by the drawbacks.
When someone is beat up, recovery will benefit them more than piling on more exercise-induced wear & tear.
Conversely, when someone is optimally “wired”, tapering can quickly dull the edge. Neuro/Endo (aptly combined with “crash” above) to my mind reflects the “too late” moment, and/because “Psycho” soon follows…
Define taper. This is big as many forget the simple concept of keeping intensity while lowering workload / volume. Its been proven time and time again that high performance can be maintained with lower & less frequent loading as long as intensity is there. Also, competition is in itself, high intensity.
“The little old lady” according to the legend, lifts the car off the poor bastard. At say age 70, how long did Granny taper for her new Deadlift PR?
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