Tactical metabolic training for team sports refers to training specifically to prepare athletes for what the sport demands in “game day” efforts (1). The purpose of this blog post is to review what research states specifically regarding basketball and soccer, in regard to testing and training athletes using methods of metabolic development, and the metrics used in this method.
Recent research states that each energy system pathway has a role in all exercise intensities. The human body has evolved its energy system to fuel movement efficiently. The energy systems are split into two systems: aerobic and anaerobic. The anaerobic system can be divided into two sub-systems. Some current methodology would argue that there are multiple energy systems. For simplicity sake the energy systems can be condensed into two major sub-systems. The two subsystems of the anaerobic system are the alactic system (lactic acid is not formed) and lactic. These sub-systems regenerate ATP at high rates, resulting in large muscle power output (1).
Tactical refers to the training to enhance the anaerobic system (1). Tactical metabolic training is based on two integral concepts: time motion analysis and running intervals on an actual court or field in which the sport would be played (1,2,3).
In the article “A Tactical Metabolic Training Model for Collegiate Basketball,” author John Taylor reviews time motion analysis in collegiate basketball, looking specifically at the number of high intensity efforts, sub maximal-intensity efforts, duration of efforts, number and length of intermittent stops in play and timeouts (see below) (1).
Created from John Taylor’s, “A Tactical Metabolic Training Model for Collegiate Basketball” NSCA Strength and Conditioning Journal V26, N5 pg22-29
The goal of the article was to conceptualize a model that integrated tactical metabolic training as the exclusive method to improve anaerobic capacity. This author used periodization as an overall training approach that planned and managed the relationship of each training component and the results from a needs analysis (1,2,3). This was done in a yearly cycle by dividing the year into phases: offseason, preseason and a competitive phase. The training itself was broken down into bio motor skills technical/tactical, speed/plyometrics, agility, tactical metabolic training and strength training. If one component is not part of a daily training session, then that component becomes the priority for the next session. (1,2,3). This system was managed via an Excel-spread sheet matrix; the author stressed the need for strength and conditioning specialists to learn and utilize Excel to monitor this program. He further stressed that technology, such as using Excel, allows for a clear metric that tracks distance, intensity and simplifies planning.
Taylor best put this by describing success: ”The success of any program is most often determined based on the outcome. Adjusting a program relevant to the outcome is dependent on the quantifiable nature of the program (1). “
Another example of tactical metabolic training for team sport is soccer, as outlined in the article written by Alexandre Dellal et al “Heart Rate Responses During Small Sided Games and Short Intermittent Running Training in Elite Soccer Players: a Comparative Study.” This study looked at the physiological improvements in certain sided matches and showed that certain games reached heart rate response of interval training. In addition, these games improved tactical and technical demands of game. The efforts for the small sided matches may be controlled by using heart rate and comparing these values to intermittent running.
All athletes were tested by VAMEVAL TEST, (a test similar to the Montreal test) which is a 20 meter intermittent test that starts at a pace of 8 km an increases .5 km every minute until exhaustion. Another physical attribute tracked in this test is maximal aerobic speed and heart rate (HR) max.
Each athlete also had resting heart rate values taken all at the same time of day. During the VAMEVAL field test, the highest average value of 3 consecutive recorded HR was considered for HRmax. Lastly they used HR reserve to program all sessions planned.
The following metabolic characteristics were noticed in both modes of training in the study:
This study indicates how certain small sided matches with goal keepers may elevate intensity. The critical learning point is that in a small sided match develops similar fitness to standard interval running programs and has a more practical in application in season (2,3).
The limitations in metabolic training in team sports today are that not every team has a designated professional that manages strength and conditioning and for the most part team sports training is very traditional. With the advent of technology and research we are starting to see better ways than the traditional methods, such as the tactical method of training.
Two key philosophical components that most training programs are built upon is specificity and progressive overload. The intent of my review of this research is to discuss an objective method of metabolic training that has been proven by research. Every team sport is striving to win and to prepare its athletes to be their best in team sports; however due to cost and practical applications, technology is not being used to its fullest capacity to optimally train athletes. This now has been changing with current research showing technology such as excel, distance, acceleration, time and heart rate being used to provide feedback to players and coaches as a planning and measuring effort.