It was hugely impressive to see the presentations the two MDs, Dr. Eric Parks and Dr. Micky Collins touch upon the role of fatigue, strength, periodization, and overtraining. This truly was looking at the big picture. If these concepts are being understood and reinforced by those in the medical field, things must be moving forward.
Dr. Parks presented on sickle cell and the athlete. I am not going to give a recap on his presentation because this is beyond the scope of this article. What I will tell you is that Dr. Parks went into depth about how athletes with sickle cell anemia need to be planned and adjusted for when it comes to training and performance. Just like a player coming back from injury or a player that is less trained, training these athletes needs to be approached with caution. It further strengthens the need for an "individual within a team" approach for training.
Dr. Collins gave two excellent presentations on concussion. Now while not directly addressed, he alluded to the role of fatigue and concussion. Players naturally are more at risk of concussion when they are hit with a "soft neck" - as in they did not prepare for impact. If a player is extremely fatigued then mental concentration may suffer. Not a good situation to be in while playing a collision sport such as American football or rugby. If we are able to better prepare our players physically, or manage fatigue more effectively, then we may be able to limit this risk factor. This is something I will look to discuss with Dr. Collins in the future (he had to fly out after his presentation), and I will comment on our correspondence here.
If this guy has to play tomorrow, he probably won't do very well
The more and more time one spends working in and studying sport, the more obvious the importance of good fatigue management. I am seeing this both in my research and in my work with athletes and coaches.
Fatigue management doesn't mean that you always have to do less training. Recently I did some work with the staff of a successful NCAA D1 women's soccer team in the south east region. The team has had a tough time with injuries over the last couple of seasons and so the staff were looking to address this. After examining past training practice and discussing certain concepts with them, it seemed that they were not training their athletes into the ground with high volumes of soccer work like I was expecting. The volume of on-field training was fairly moderate. The content of training also seemed appropriate. The distribution of this work, however, may well be where problems were coming from. Variation; truly challenging training, and periods of recovery from training and competition seemed to be what was lacking. Fatigue was not being managed.
The more that sport scientists and medical professionals understand, and then present this concept when discussing training with coaches, the better sports training will become. Keep reinforcing. People will start to listen.