One of the primary difficulties faced by coaches, instructors and trainers in the physical training of groups, is the means of applying theory to practice. For example, Fartlek-based training is identified as the training method to be utilized in order to improve the intermittent metabolic conditioning of a sporting team. But how? How do you take 60 players and conduct fartlek training? How do you merge theory and practice? The answer, use training drills, not adapted to, but designed for, group exercise.
Conditioning vs Skills
Prior to looking at the first series of drills, the concepts of conditioning and skills training must be addressed. Whilst the activities presented may tend to be heavily biased in their examples, as either a conditioning based drill of a skills based drill, each activity can be manipulated in such a way so as to increase / decrease a particular emphasis. For example, a decrease in distance can easily increase the skills requirement by decreasing reaction time (this is shown simplistically in Figure 1 below) and vis-versa.
Figure 1: Conditioning vs Skills
1. Fast and Slow
Concept: Fartlek sessions based on set distances.
Set up and delivery:
Figure 2a: Fast and Slow set up and conduct
- A pair of markers are placed on a looping ‘track’.
- The markers are placed at a desired distance for the higher intensity interval (Eg. 50m) – See Figure 2.
- The participants jog around the track (Eg 60% of maximal pace), then upon reaching the first marker increase their intensity (Eg 80% of maximal pace) to the second marker.
Upon reaching the second marker, the participants return to their original running pace.
The training area should resemble a circular shape.
Square fields can also be used as traditionally participants arc around the corners.
Sporting ovals, tracks and parks are the more suitable training areas.
The marker area could be used for a recovery with the remaining distance being the intensity distance.
A. Odds and Evens
Figure 2b: Fast and Slow Expansion A: Odds and Evens
- Place a second pair of markers out at a greater or lesser distance.
- One speed alteration is performed every odd lap, the other every even lap.
B: Double Up
Figure 2c: Fast and Slow Expansion B: Double Up
- Place a second pair of markers out at a greater or lesser distance on the opposite side of the running ‘track’.
- Two speed variations are conducted per lap – distances and intensities can remain the same or vary.
2. Partner Tag
Concept: Partners are used to pace each other and set intensity variation timings.
Set up and delivery:
- Divide the participants into pairs of approximate equal ability.
- One participant leaves from the start area running in a clockwise direction, whilst their partner starts to walk in a counter clockwise direction.
- When the partners tag, they turn around and change from a runner to a walker or vis-versa.
- NOTE: Running participants will always run in a clockwise direction, walking / recovering participants will always move in a counter clockwise direction.
Figure 3a: Partner Tag in action
- Have the walkers / recoverers walking on the inside of the ‘track’ to avoid clashes.
A. Chase downs
Figure 3b: Partner Tag with Expansion A: Chase Downs
- Have both the walker/recoverer and runners moving in the same direction.
- Initially the recovery can be a walk progressing to a slow jog as fitness or intensity increases.
- Again recovery is on the inside of the ‘track’.
3. Stop and Drop
Concept: Incorporating resistance training with metabolic conditioning
Set up and delivery:
Figure 4: Stop and Drop set up and conduct
- The goal posts are used or if none are available markers are placed on the perimeter of the field / track in 2 small groups of 2 – 4 cones several paces apart.
- Alternatively additional markers could supplement the goal posts.
- The participants jog around the field (Eg 60% of maximal pace), then upon reaching the first goal post / marker stop to perform a resistance training exercise (preferably one requiring no equipment). On completion of the set amount of repetitions, the participants get up and move to the next goal post and repeat the exercise for additional repetitions.
- Repetition ranges could be ascending, continuos or descending.
- Exercises could be the same or varied by laps (Eg 1st Lap Squats, 2nd Lap Push ups, 3rd Lap Sit Ups) or ½ circuits (Eg. Top of field = Lunges, Bottom of field = Push Ups).
- If resistance equipment, Medicine balls etc, are to be used ensure that they do not interfere with travel between stations / run routes.
- A variety of different pyramid styles can be used to manipulate the repetitions / intensity, EG
- Pyramid up (to increase metabolic conditioning),
- ‘Step and Drop’ every lap
- Add ½ lap additional running prior to a ‘Stop and Drop’ lap
- Add 1 additional lap of running prior to a ‘Stop and Drop’ lap
- Add1 ½ additional laps of running prior to a ‘Stop and Drop’ lap
- Pyramid up (to increase muscle conditioning),
- 1st ‘Stop and Drop’ point = 10 repetitions of Exercise X
- 2nd Stop and Drop’ point = 15 repetitions of Exercise X
- 3rd Stop and Drop’ point = 20 repetitions of Exercise X
- Run ½ lap to next ‘Stop and Drop’ area and start again
- Pyramid down (to increase metabolic conditioning and decrease muscle conditioning),
- 1st Lap = 20 repetitions at each ‘Stop and Drop’ point
- 2nd Lap = 15 repetitions at each ‘Stop and Drop’ point
- 3rd Lap = 10 repetitions at each ‘Stop and Drop’ point
- Full pyramid
- 1st ‘Stop and Drop’ lap = 10 repetitions of Exercise X
- 2nd Stop and Drop’ lap = 15 repetitions of Exercise X
- 3rd Stop and Drop’ lap = 20 repetitions of Exercise X
- 4th ‘Stop and Drop’ lap = 15 repetitions of Exercise X
- 5th Stop and Drop’ lap = 10 repetitions of Exercise X
Concept: Metabolic conditioning which can incorporate speed based or skill based activities
Set up and delivery:
Figure 5a: Crossover: Conditioning based training layout – single lane
Figure 5b: Crossover: Conditioning and skills based layout – single lane
- The goal posts are used or if none are available markers are placed on the perimeter of the field /track.
- The participants jog around the field (Eg 60% of maximal pace), until they reach the goal post at the opposing end, they then cut across the field to the goal posts/ marker at the start.
- When cutting across the field the participants can, increasing pace (See Figure 5a) or include a skills drill (See Figure 5b)
- For the skills variation which involves objects have a set area for starting drills and finishing drills. If possible, as in the example of Figure 5b) set up so as to allow a direction change when equipment is depleted on one side of the field.
- Notice, as only ½ the field is used, it can be shared with other club divisions or two lanes could be set up.
A. Head to head
Figure 5c: Crossover Expansion A: Head to head layout
- Rather than have two lanes going in the same direction, switch the direction of one lane (As shown in Figure 5c).
- The ‘opposing runners could provide opposition to the ‘attackers’ or perform other skills.
- Groups can be divided into odds and even player jersey numbers, attack or defence.
- This method could also alleviate the need for separate object (balls) collection areas.
- After 4 laps of ½ the field / court / pitch, (one lap being the completion of the centre component – ie. The beginning of the ‘run around’) the participants run a full lap and enter the opposing training lane.
5. Cutting the cake
Concept: Low metabolic demands with varying skill demands. Ideal for warm ups, active recovery or cooling down.
Set up and delivery:
Figure 6a: Cutting the cake: 1 runs to centre.
Figure 6b: Cutting the cake: Centre runs to 2.
Figure 6c: Cutting the cake: 2 runs to 1
Figure 6d: Cutting the cake: 1 runs to 3
- Group forms a circle with one participant in the centre.
- An outer participant runs into centre to tag the centre participant (See Figure 6a).
- The centre participant runs out to tag the person to the left or right of the incoming centre participant (See Figure 6b).
- The second outer person runs in to tag the centre person (See Figure 6c)...who then runs out to tag the next person (See Figure 6d)…and the cycle continues.
- For skills sessions have a skill performed to get into the centre and the same or different drill to get out.
- E.g. Soccer.
- The outer player conducts a ‘throw in’.
- The centre participant controls the ball with their body and passes it with their feet out to the next person in the outer circle who picks it up and throws it back into the centre.
- E.g. Netball.
- The outer player ‘chest passes’ the ball in.
- The centre participant catches the ball and ‘bounce’ passes it out to the next person in the outer circle who ‘chest passes’ the ball back into the centre.
A. Double Trouble
Figure 6e: Cutting the cake: First action for Double Trouble Expansion
Figure 6f: Cutting the cake: Second action for Double Trouble Expansion
- Have two rotations going at the same time.
- They can mimic the original skill or apply a totally different skill.
Figure 6g: Cutting the cake: First action for Anti-Clash Expansion
Figure 6h: Cutting the cake: Second action. for Anti-Clash Expansion
- Have two rotations going at the same time...this time in opposing directions.
- Good for teaching timing and situational awareness.
The drills provided above should never be considered as absolute, they should be considered as a ’springboard’ to the specific approaches required by ‘individual’ groups. For example, a rugby player might receive a pass during the ‘fast and slow’ drill at the first intensity marker sprinting to the next marker then delivering the ball or a touch footballer might side step at the first marker before launching in to the increased intensity.
Coming Next… Line Drills.