A common periodization strategy for improving athletic performance variables involves a period of progressive increases in training volume (i.e., overload) to induce fatigue followed by a tapering phase leading into competition. During the overload, performance decrements are typically observed as fatigue masks fitness and performance capabilities. However, during the taper when training loads are systematically reduced, fatigue dissipates and performance rebounds above baseline levels. This is your typical case of functional overreaching whereby the transient (i.e., couple of weeks) increase in fatigue and performance reductions are “functional” in a sense that it resulted in improved performance when sufficient recovery was provided. For athletes that do not improve performance after the taper, or maintain decreased performance, then the athletes are classified as being non-functionally overreached. Since there is a fine line between non-functional vs. functional overreaching, coaches may use monitoring protocols to determine how the athletes are responding to training and therefore to determine how training loads should be manipulated per individual athlete.
A new study published ahead of print in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research used weekly countermovement jump tests as a monitoring tool throughout an overreaching and tapering phase in 18 national level U-17 futsal (indoor soccer) players. The team was divided into a control group and a regulated group. The control group followed a standardized training template where loads were increased progressively for 4 weeks and then tapered for 2 weeks. The regulated group had their training loads increased or decreased based on their countermovement jump scores at the beginning of each week. For example, during overreaching, it was expected that countermovement jump performance would maintain or decrease. If this wasn’t the case, the athletes individual training load was increased. During the taper, if countermovement jump wasn’t improving, loads were further reduced. Countermovement jump values for both groups were recorded weekly, but the values from pre-training (week 0), following the overload (week 4) and following the taper (Week7) were compared.
The results showed that the control group saw no mean differences in countermovement jump at any time point. In contrast, the regulated training group observed a significant decrease in jumps scores following the overload compared to baseline followed by a significant increase in jump scores compared to baseline following the taper. This suggests that monitoring weekly countermovement jump height may be useful for managing individual training loads in athletes. When performance decreases, further increases in training load are likely not useful. In contrast, if jump performance increases, greater loads will likely be well tolerated. This may serve as a simple and useful method for program management with team-sport athletes.
Claudino, J. G., Pereira, C., Miyashiro, P., Masuko, W., Góes, L., Dias, P., … & Serrão, J. C. Auto-regulating jump performance to induce functional overreaching. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, E-pub ahead of print.