New Year training camps

New Year training camps

A number of sports like to have training camps for their athletes in the New Year, especially before school goes back. This enables them to spend time with the team and have multiple sessions a day with them to work on many aspects of training including strength and fitness.

However, these camps carry a risk that as a physio, I have seen on numerous times in the past – Injuries.

The reason these camps tend to create an unusual number of injuries is that of load management, or more specifically in this case, poor load management.

Tim Gabbett has developed a tool which not only helps understand these injuries, but also helps identify how to prevent them. It is known as the acute to chronic work load ratio. This is a formula based on studies from many different sports, and can be used in many different scenarios, not just team camps.

It works by taking the workload over a period of typically 4 weeks, and averaging this to determine your average load over that time – chronic workload. This is then compared to your workload over the current week – acute workload. If the amount for the current week is more than 15% greater than the 4 week average, the risk of injury increases. The greater the ratio the greater the risk of injury.

To give an example lets take cricket bowling. If a bowler delivers 100 balls a week for 4 weeks then the total is 400. You divide that by 4 weeks gives you an average load of 100wk. This is your chronic workload. If over the next two weeks they are off for Christmas and don’t really do anything then the chronic workload for that 4 weeks drops to 50 (2 x 100wks  + 2 x 0 wks / 4wks). Then the first week back after the holidays they go on camp and have more sessions than normal, say do 120 balls (acute workload). This is a 240% greater work load, or a relative risk of injury of 20%. That means a fifth of your squad are possibly going to get injured. Most of these happen straight away but a number also present 2 weeks down the track. Of course, all of this is relative to intensity and other factors, but it does give us a baseline to work from.

Don’t play cricket? Change the number of bowls for minutes on the water for rowers, jumps for a basketballer, or metres run for a team athlete. The formula has been shown to be meaningful in a multiple of different sports and situations.

So 1) keep your athletes doing something over the holidays or 2) make sure you build your training up gradually in the New Year or 3) do both, and start the year with a healthy squad of athletes.

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