By Vishnu Makhijani
New Delhi, May 20 (IANS) It's taken over 120 years to shave the Olympic 100 metres record from 11.4 seconds to the current 9.06 seconds and globally renowned Global Sports Scientist and Performance Enhancement Specialist Tim Gabbett says it's got to even out sometime.
"It's a million dollar question. At some point of time it is going to stop at much lower time. It is better to keep trying, keep pushing our limits that's the best we can do to lower the mark. With advancement in training, technology and good coaches, players are trained to be physically and mentally strong," Gabbett told IANS in an interview.
Gabbett who has worked with elite international athletes over several Commonwealth Games (2002 and 2006) and Olympic Games (2000, 2004, and 2008) cycles, then added a few caveats to prevent illness and over-training in athletes.
"The biggest challenge to manage sports with reference to injury is to bring athletes and coaches on the same page. There are different team members comprising of coaching and performance staff. Everyone has to work, communicate and perform well together. Managing risk of injury helps in keeping their focus in the centre of the game," he explained.
Then, there is the question of managing the pressure of high performance practitioners in sports, said Gabbet, who was in Mumbai recently for a workshop at The Heal Institute, a multi-disciplinary physiotherapy centre.
"Pressure develops because of expectation to perform well. If the level of the sports is high, it ultimately develops higher expectation to win. Athletes should keep in mind that performance is important but thinking about friends and family is also important. They always want to do the best job for themselves, for their teams but the best way to deal with the pressure and obtain victory is by keeping everything in perspective," he said.
Gabbett, who has a PhD in Human Physiology (2000) and has completed a second PhD in the Applied Science of Professional Football (2011) with special reference to physical demands, injury prevention, and skill acquisition, also spoke of the importance of load management training.
"If you try to rapidly increase your training loads or use them excessively you will most certainly run the risk of injury. Athletes are advised to safely build the higher training loads so that their built-up is resilient and robust. One can prevent over-training by taking factor recovery breaks between the high-intensity training sessions. It is good to train hard but it is always advisable to take proper interval between the sessions," he added.
"Load management is essential when you are planning training and it is aids sports science trainers, physiotherapists and coaches. The importance of load management could be explained better using this example: If someone wants to participate in Tokyo Olympics wherein he/she will be competing with the best athletes and desires to win maximum medals, load management will increase the possibilities to win them and overcome the challenges.
"One has to plan their loads appropriately and not quickly. Systematically buildimg higher loads with factor recovery will better the chance to win," he added.
How does this translate into action?
Noting that there are many positive and negative effects of training, Gabbett said: "The positive effect is obviously fitness and it becomes negative when we rapidly increase the load training. It gives athletes a fatigue effect, increases the risk of illness and injury. Athletes should maximise the positive fitness effects by using load information. When they are going for big events or championship, they should ensure their fitness level is high and fatigue is very low."
He also pointed to three key factors of sports science which will benefit coaches and athletes:
* The need to load athletes effectively. Load management and training is a big rock. If we get that right you are in a good place
* Recovery is a big part of training. It is important to get enough quality sleep each night
* Provide athletes with enough fuel i.e proper food and encourage regular hydration.
"If we get these three things right, it will benefit an athlete to perform and win," Gabbett concluded,
(Vishnu Makhijani can be reached at email@example.com)