Depending on what level of athletes you coach and in what setting, acquiring full attendance from athletes for summer workouts can be difficult. At the collegiate level, many athletes will head home for the short time they have off and do their training elsewhere (if at all). At the high school level it can be hit or miss whether kids commit to the program. These issues affect program design, particularly for training frequency. By summer’s end, you will have several athletes who committed to the program, well prepared for camp while others will be “somewhat” prepared or not prepared at all. The athletes who are not sufficiently prepared for the (grueling) physical demands of training camp are putting themselves and their team at risk. As coaches, we want and expect 100% attendance and compliance with off season activities. However, the reality is that this isn’t always possible. Therefore, it is important to know what the minimum attendance needs to be for sufficient improvements.
A recent study in the Asian Journal of Sports Medicine by Gentil and Bottaro (2013), investigated the effects of attendance levels on strength gains in 92 young males. The subjects underwent a resistance training program with workouts occurring twice per week over 11 weeks. Upper (1RM Bench Press) and lower body (knee extensor peak torque) maximal strength was assessed before and after the training intervention. At the completion of the study, the researchers grouped the subjects based on attendance levels, defined as high (92 to 100%), intermediate (80-91%) and low (60-79%) attendance groups. Statistical analyses revealed that the low attendance group displayed lower increases in maximal strength (+8.8%) compared to the intermediate (+18%) and high attendance groups (17.6%). The researchers concluded that a minimum of 80% attendance is necessary to obtain optimal strength gains.
There are a few key limitations of this study that must be addressed. First, individuals with no resistance training experience were used in this study, which is typically not the case when dealing with a team of athletes. Next, other markers of fitness and athletic performance were not assessed, therefore, from this study, it is unclear how qualities such as speed, agility, vertical jump, etc. are effected by attendance. It is also quite interesting that the high attendance group did not show greater strength improvements than the intermediate group. Though 100% attendance is desired and likely results in greater performance improvements across various fitness qualities (particularly in trained athletes), a minimum attendance of 80% may be sufficient for lower level athletes.
Gentil, P., & Bottaro, M. (2013). Effects of training attendance on muscle strength of young men after 11 weeks of resistance training. Asian journal of sports medicine, 4(2), 101.