Tapering, Super-compensation and all that jazz

‘Super-Compensation’

‘Compensation’ also known as ‘adaptation’ occurs through-out training for a swimmer’s performance to improve. This is when after a period of intense training fatigue occurs followed by rest & recovery which produces an overall improvement in performance. Effort followed by recovery that results in adaptation occurs daily, even twice daily if an athlete swims/exercises more than once and during the week if there is rest or period out of the water/not exercising (desired or otherwise). Super-compensation is simply a heightened, lengthened or extreme version of other minor or regular periods of compensation. In other words, after many weeks or months of intense training a longer period of rest and recovery occurs that is designed to produce ‘super-compensation,’ or compensation that goes beyond the usual degree of adaptation, so that the resulting performance in an important competition is greatly enhanced.

How long should a taper be for a swimmer?

The duration and timing of a tape will vary from swimmer to swimmer and depend to some degree on the importance of this event to this swimmer and the team for whom they swim, as well as the event or events or specialisation … as well as their age, levels of fitness and expectations. Age group swimmers need little tapering as they haven’t the muscle bulk that would benefit from the adaptation process of the taper, whereas as Senior swimmers competing in a sprint event may benefit greatly from a longer, deeper period of tapering. If a swimmer is keeping a logbook and they, perhaps their parent and/or team manager, and especially their coach and/or assistant coach, know and understand this swimmer’s make up, physical & psychological, as well as other factors that may impact on their training and the nature and need of a taper such as school trips &/or national exams, then between them a taper, that is to a degree bespoke, cane be planned for.

How to bring about optimal performance in relation to factors at a competition that can affect an individual’s performance

How to bring about optimal performance in relation to factors at a competition that can affect an individual’s performance

Factor Your Strategies

Hydration

 

Educate athletes to understand why the need to be hydrated during training and at competitions is important. This ‘education’ ought to include a classroom/conference style presentation, with supporting literature and perhaps drink samples provided by a sponsor. As well as publicity for the event going onto the club website, in the club newsletter, on the club notice-boards and in swimmer’s log books, a sheet outlining hydration principles would be used to make the information readily available to swimmers, coaches, parents & team managers. Ensure that swimmers have drinks poolside and that these are suitable to their needs – some energy drinks containing too much glucose for example.

 

Team Spirit and Unity

 

How swimmers get on with their ‘colleagues’ is vital, the lane dynamic can go wrong, as can the mood of the squad or certain swimmers in it, even affecting the entire team depending on who is involved/responsible. From the outset club members, squad or not, need to understand the need to abide by certain club rules, but more than that to participate in some of the charity & social events the club puts on that creates a sense of belonging and combined pride and commitment.  Attitude of parents, committee, coaches & teachers all counts her … even the presence of Club Flyers & Posters around the ‘home’ facility, as well as the wearing of club swimming caps, costumes, tops, hoodies, t-bags & so on. This team ‘spirit’ is also enhance through internal & external PR, posting of results, writing up of event reports, appearances in local papers and putting laminated cuttings up on notice-boards and linking to news on the club website and sharing stories in the club newsletter. All this creates ‘unity’ at an event, as does sharing a coach, and staying at the same location, eating together …  and staying together in a poolside ‘corral.’

 

Environmental Issues

 

Travel distance to the location. Outdoor, v.humid poolside, poor seating, nature of warm-up arrangements – is there a separate pool for warm ups & swim downs? 25m or 50m. Local weather and time zone, time of year (hot, cold, wet, snow etc) Changing rooms/cubicles, team changing, quality and cleanliness of toilets/showers. Access to appropriate food & drinks. Lighting, distance from changing rooms to pool. Temperature away from the pool. Crowding. Bins.  Ease of reading electronic boards. Ease of greeting parents/friends. Sound.

 

Length of Competition

 

Over a day or days, how long during the day between warm up and heats and events. Heat declared winners or finals. Award ceremonies during or after events. Electronic timing or officials … or both.

 

Format of Competition

 

Suitability or otherwise of running order and the events chosen by individual swimmers who may or may not feel good or otherwise about the choices they originally made and the competition they now face … or don’t face. Some events become a non-event if there are few entries …

 

Level of Competition

 

Just as swimmers competing in events where they could appear to do so badly they are humiliated so swimmers that run away with the events won’t gain anything if they are just swimming against the clock and if they mock the event by swimming slowly it does them and the club harm.

The Coaching Philosophy of Bill Furniss

Fig. 1. Coach Bill Furniss taking a group of prospective ASA Level 3 coaches

The following notes were taken at a talk given by Swimming Coach Bill Furniss, Nova Centurion Head Coach and Coach to Olympians such as Rebecca Adlington.

This talk was part of the UKCC/ASA Senior Club Coach course.

WHAT IS COACHING ?

Produced a great long list between us which Bill simplified to being performance driven. i.e. if you’re not improving competitive performance you are not coaching, you are teaching (or supervising).

‘Coaching is a process which involves a rational approach to the improvement of competitive performance through a planned and coordinated programme of preparing and competition.’  Bill Furniss

‘This process embraces both direct intervention strategies and the manipulation of contextual variable affecting player preparation and performance.’  Bill Furniss

e.g. A swimmer doing 20 x 100 reps on 65 dong them on 67 told to increase stroke count, reduce weight work and/or go faster over the last 15m

Only two people count; the coach and the athlete.

Some Essential skills:

  • Plan
  • Organise
  • Direct
  • Observe
  • Evaluate
  • Instruct
  • Communicate
  • Demonstrate
  • Share Knowledge
  • Strategies
  • Counselling
  • Motivator

Some Personality traits:

  • Having total belief
  • Being intuitive

(Realise why directing & coaching have so much in common, the targets of the coach working with athletes to produce a result like the targets the director has working with actors to produce a result).

‘Coaching is NOT a haphazard, trial and error affair, but involves a series of orderly, inter-related steps.’  Bill Furniss

‘The coaching process designates the steps the coach takes in determining, planning and implementing coaching action.’  Bill Furniss

The steps involved in the coaching process:

  • Data Collection
  • Diagnosis
  • Prescribed plan of action
  • Implementation
  • Evaluation
  • Adaptation
  • Overload
  • Progression
  • Specificity
  • Both short & long term

Where have all the boys gone?

They find it too structured and  methodical

It does n’t allow boys to be boys.

‘Swimming is becoming a girls’ sport.’  Bill Furniss

CF the US College System.

Coaching Philosophy

‘Your philosophy and style doesn’t matter … as long as it works and it works for you … and is appropriate for the context in which it will be applied.’  Bill Furniss

‘It is superhuman what we ask them to do – everything hurts, even their hair hurts.’ Bill Furniss

Ref: Coach: A Season with Lombardi. Tom Dowling. 1970.

The appropriateness of your philosophy to the context within which it will be applied.

Swimmers are starting to move around and leave coaches because they want a particular style.

‘This coaching lark is a bit more complex than you thought.’ Bill Furniss

Nova Session by Bill Furniss

T1/T2 NOVA 1 HOUR SESSION                         (8pm 25 NOV 08)

 

Swim 4 x 50 FC        @ 1.00/1.15

as       25m               FIST                 (Hands in fists drill)

25m                CUP               (Catch Up)

 

Swim 3 x 50m BC    @ 1.00/1.15               High REC

 

Kick    2 x 100m        @ 2.00/2.15

as 25 FC, 25 BC

 

Tumble on kick & tight streamlining & perfectly executed turns & transitions

 

 

550m

 

 

MAIN SET

 

6 x 100m        @ on 1.30  PB + 15  Hold SC Inc: last 25m

1 x 200m IM  @ 3.30

Slow FLY

Fast BC, BR & FC.

 

Last 25m FC to be same as last 25m on 100s

 

100m Easy   BC

 

2nd Repeat 4 x 100m

 

3rd Repeat 2 x 100m

900m + 700m + 500m = 2100m

 

SWIM DOWN

 

2 x 50 FLY                             @ 2.30

2 x 50 FLY Kick on back     @ 1.30

2 x 50 FC MAX

 

300m

TOTAL  550m + 2100m + 300m = 2950m

 

Nova Centurion Squad Session (Early season – October)

Nova Centurion Squad Session October 08 2 HRS

Just like you to an outsider the set on the white board is cryptic. But you use the same language.

Just like you there are clear periods within the programme of intensity or drilling, slowing right down and using snorkels and fins.

Bill operates with an A1 sized portable white board held together with duck tape which he props up somewhere poolside that is convenient for 4-6 lanes to see.

Self-regulation is key with a squad of adult athletes.

The set is given to them in three parts, sometimes four: Warm Up, Main Set (sometimes in 2 parts) and Swim Down.

Whilst Warm Ups are self-regulated, the coach will pick up on anyone who isn’t swimming as required – i.e. even pace when required to go for a low stroke count and a smooth swim. The main set is also self-regulated with Bill keeping an eye on everyone with two stop watches running on splits & stroke counts while he pays attention to ONE swimmer for the entire session.

This was a tolerance set, so not full on, as they are SEVEN weeks into this cycle.

Some will still not be anaerobically fit enough for something heavier.

The are given plenty of recovery time.

The trainee coaches … were advised that returning in TWO WEEKS time we would see that they will have adapted and the programme will be far, far more tough.

Observing a swimmer during the warm up achieving a stroke count between bursts of 21.8, or around 16 per 25m and impressed by his silent, smooth, controlled, fluid, easy, gentle, crafty & probing style I picked this lane to work with.

This lane was made up of three swimmers: Andy Mayor (200m Fly, Scottish International, Ex. Newcastle City), Sam Hynde (Paralympian) & Rachel George.

The parting note to his trainee coaches from Bill Furniss was ‘Application of Knowledge is crucial.’

WARM UP

500 FR

with 1 x 10m BURST each 100m

400 (4 x 25 IM Fins) Speed Rotate 25s

300 kick 25 Max 75 Easy

200 Fly – FR (25s) Acc 5 in FLY, May 5 out Turns FR

200 Loosen Choice

Having briefed the swimmers Bill Furniss then briefed his trainee coaches thus:

The things you will say in order to help your swimmers meet the objectives that have been set might be:

Try to reduce kick on 1st 50m

Try to increase kick on the 2nd 50m

Increase stroke rate on the last 25m/15m

Achieve your negative split

but

‘Don’t swim to destruction.’

i.e. swimmers have to control & trust their pace, turning the pace up or down as required so that they know exactly what they are doing and what they can achieve.

MAIN SET

5 x 100 @ 1:40 FPP FR

2 x 150 ICS REC 2 3 MINS

4 x 100 FPP No. 1

2 x 150 All FR

3 x 100

2 x 150

2 x 100

2 x 150

1 x 100

2 x 150

All 100s are NEG SPLIT with +ve stroke rate for last 50/25m required.

Swimmers were told how to swim it and are advised that they will be picked up if they don’t achieve the negative split. This was our job.

Is anyone interested in the Stroke Rates achieved by these THREE swimmers???

On the first set of 5 x 100 this is what we got:

Andy Mayor’s stroke count drifted from 36.2, to 34 to 40.

Whilst increasingly his stroke rate Coach felt he could do more with his kick in the last 25m/15m. Coach later felt that Andy was still settling into his new club but would need to ‘tune in.’

Rachel did as required with a stroke rate picking up from 35, to 37 to 43 over the 100m with the kick coming in for the last 15m. Used to Bill she has done this kind of set many times before.

Sam is Paralympic medalist. He wasn’t please with himself, or me, to be advised that his stroke rate went from 54 to 42 to 52 … i.e He swims at S6 and has next to no kick, I’d liken it to swimming with a pull-bouy and a single foot in a fin.

On the second set of 4 x 100 we got this: