Managing a one-week conditioning plan

Management of the training plan is an extremely important aspect of coaching as it is determining how much workload is placed on the players and what type of training is making up this workload. Firstly, the coach needs to determine how many training opportunities the players have per week. Coaches must remember that their training plan needs to fit the lifestyles of their players. Once the training slots in the week have been identified it is then up to the coach to decide what should be included within these training slots. This will in part be determined by the phase of the season (a pre-season week should be very different to an in-season week). Once the types of training have been allocated to the available time slots it is up to the coach to design and plan each of the training sessions considering the principles of training, time of season, and ability levels of the players.

An example of a pre-season three-training-day-week for an amateur team is shown in the figure below. The session RPE discussed earlier is included as a way of monitoring the weekly workload.

DaySessionSession RPE
Tuesday90 minute session - 30 min speed and agility, 30 min conditioning, 30 min skill and rugby drills
Thursday90 minute session - 30 min anatomical adaptation circuit, 40 min conditioning games, 20 min technical skill development
Saturday90 minute session - 30 min speed and agility, 30 min conditioning, 30 min skill and rugby drills
Total weekly load =

Once the general training week plan is created the specific designs of the training sessions are required to ensure the training programme runs smoothly.

Some guidelines for effective training session design and management are;

  • Ensure that maximum strength, speed, and agility components are trained when the player is fresh/rested. Proper placement for strength, power and speed is important if gains are to be made. Placing strength, power and speed training after high intensity multi-sprint and endurance training is counterproductive (Leveritt & Abernethy, 1999).
  • Have timings for each part of the training session so the training session runs to plan, starts, and finishes on time.
  • Ensure all the equipment for the drills and exercises in the training plan is available for the session.
  • Ensure that there are sufficient rest intervals within the training unit. For strength, power, speed, and agility exercises sufficient rest time is needed so the repetitions or the drills are technically sound.
  • Ensure that the warm-up selected is appropriate to prepare for the demands of the main content of the training unit. This means that if weight training is the main content, then a 5-minute cycle on a stationary bike is not appropriate. Instead, the player should complete the RAMP protocol discussed in the Conditioning for Youths online learning module.
  • Vary the intensity between training days. If all training is at the same high intensity then the player will likely over-train over time. Vary the intensity between consecutive training days such that when one is hard the next is either easy or moderate in intensity (Rhea et al, 2003; Kraemer et al, 2003).
  • Monitor the players to the best of your ability to make sure that the training loads applied are appropriate.
  • Adjust the training session on the spot if needs be. Factors outside the control of the coach can sometime arise and cause a training session to change. Have a plan but be able to adapt it as the situation dictates