In my last few blogs I explained and broke down the first 3 groups of sports exercises. In today’s blog I will be going over the last and final stage/component of exercises for an athlete:”Competitive Exercises”. If you are an athlete or are training an athlete it is important to understand when and how to use competitive exercises during the training process.
Competitive exercises are the actual competitive actions (techniques) of a given sport. These movements are performed as they would be during a contest. These types of exercises are the only methods of training which totally recreate the requirements of a given sport. Because of the fact that they are able to reconstruct the necessities of a competition they are essential in the developing of competitive readiness. These exercises are highly intense and they place tremendous amounts of stress both physically and mentally on the athlete. It is because of this high level of demand that competitive exercises should only make-up a small amount of the total exercises in a program. Although the demand is great, an athlete can not afford to remove these exercises from their training regimen. Athletes would not be able to train too often with competitive exercises as they would peak much too early, reach burnout, or suffer an injury. To give an example of how little actual time is spent performing competitive exercises, trainer Tudor Bompa says that within a year high jumpers would actually spend only approximately two hours on jumps with a full approach, while pole-vaulters would spend only about an hour more.
It is important to understand that exercises have two ways in which they can affect the athlete. One way is through changes in the structures of the body. Strength exercises (general exercise period) will effect the muscles, tendons, and bones, while endurance exercises develop the lung capacity and the structure and function of the heart. Another way to cause changes to the athletes performance is through functional changes in the nervous system (sport-specific period). Remember, the athlete wants to build a strong foundation using general and direct exercises before moving to the more sport-specific and competitive exercises.
For more information on this topic I recommend Science of Sports Training:How to Plan and Control Training for Peak Performance, by Thomas Kurz.