Individual Qualities vs Positional Demands
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Individual Qualities vs Positional Demands

One frequent question I get from coaches and try to resolve myself is whether the conditioning should be based on individual characteristics (MAS, YOYO, VMAX, etc) OR based on position demands?

Regarding the position demands: how do we quantify them and what is the worthwhile difference (SWC) between positions that warrants different training prescription? Most of the studies focused on p values instead of SWC and TE. Speaking of TE (Typical Error) there is a huge %CV (coefficient of variation) in game-related data (which means that distances covered vary as much as 30% from game to game). This further complicated applicable positional differences from practical and physical preparation standpoint.Ok, suppose we know the positional demands for our level of playing – should we focus on where we are in these demands or where we want to be (play)?

Suppose that we don’t take individual qualities into consideration and we impose positional demands based on where we want to be on the players. How are we certain they are not being loaded too much or too little?

In ideal world player physical qualities should coincide with his positional demands. Look at this as the law of supply and demand (supply~demand) or potential~expression. Sometimes this might not be the case because players don’t play certain position solely on their physical qualities, but also technical, decision making, mental and so forth.

I believe in complementary approach. I also love the approach by Carlo Buzzichelli –

INTENSITY: Individual Quality
VOLUME: Position Demands
ORGANIZATION: Positional Demands
WORK:REST: Positional Demands and Individual Quality
SITUATION/POSITON: Positional Demand

Again certain drills might be more ‘suited’ for certain positions, but in short if FB are running longer distances (see GPS data on duration and length of efforts in certain velocity zones) than FW, then FW might perform conditioning in shuttles and FBs in straight line [for example]. Another might be the volume – all positions run at certain %MAS, but MFs might do some extra set.

Again, this is not static picture – the emphasis might shift over time and over pre-season/season.

When it comes to blending technique with conditioning [e.g. doing conditioning with finishing for FWs, conditioning with heading the ball out for CDs, etc] I believe positional demands will dominate [and not his technical/tactical qualities, yet again it depends]

Another way to look at this [dichotomist] problem is to use SSGs and games overall to put certain individual into the most position specific context. Thus, if this is solved with practices, is there a need to do it with conditioning too? And why are we splitting these two anyway? [see my presentation on Periodization Confusion].

How much specific work is too much? When does the specific work fails to provide overload and adaptation? When does the adaptation/overload fails to bring transfer to specific work?

Unfortunately I don’t have THE answer, except stating that coaches should learn to reconcile and juggle with these two dichotomies [I solved it by using Squiggle Sense] and not to lean too much on pre-made solutions and philosophies. What I mean by the latter is that one needs to take complexity of biological adaptation and skill acquisition of each individual into consideration instead of pursuing certain rigid approach. The solution is smart monitoring and predictive analytics for each individual. This is the work in progress – take the empiricist/experimental stance and test your hypothesis for each individual, instead of rationalizing things based on who said what.

Unfortunately again, taking a stance of empiricist is not easy – it demand knowing what to measure, how to analyze it, how to compare it to other measures and how to make reliable action steps.

I am a physical preparation coach from Belgrade, Serbia, grow up in Pula, Croatia (which I consider my home town). I was involved in physical preparation of professional, amateur and recreational athletes of various ages in sports such as basketball, soccer, volleyball, martial arts and tennis. Read More »
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