T Nation

Cardio for Sports

Looking and listening to the various methods employed by coaches at my high school to build endurance and comparing to the certain sports needs, I believe that many of these methods are highly misunderstood.

What do I think on what kind of conditioning needs to be done for sports? I personally believe that almost all sports should base at least 80% of the conditioning on sprinting drills. Then, make some position specific drills (only for certain sports i.e. football).

All sports require the athlete to sprint sporadically, but never does any sport require an athlete to run continuously at a 65% max speed pace (this does not include track events).
Here are some examples:
Football- This is a sprinting sport, and the longest distance they have to travel is 100 yards(sometimes 150 if they are a kick returner).
Hockey- Although they do continuously skate, with the major amount of switches being made and considering how small the rink is, sprinting is more of the prevalent area for the players.
Soccer- When the positions are split up, sprinting is more involved that a continuous run.
Volleyball- That is all about short sprints.
Lacrosse- Same basic idea as soccer.

Even from personal experience, I have noticed that my long distance cardio is much better when I do a lot of sprints. When the body is pushed to the limits for a short distance and given very little time to recover, the shock is always fluctuating and forcing the body to adapt, which is why HIIT is able to burn so much more bodyfat that a continuous run.

Sprinting conditioning seems much more logical for athletes and coaches to adopt, but why does the continuous run always prevail in 75% of high school coaches?

What do you all have to say on my thinking and why coaches seem to use the old style version of conditioning?

Toughness. Coaches want to know you will put your balls on the line. If that means making you run 10 miles even though you’re a O-lineman, so be it.

lol basically your coach made you run a lot and your complaining, thats not what they want out of you.

Because most coaches doesn’t really know how to efficiently build stamina or strength for that matter. Most of them just doesn’t know any better.

[quote]shizen wrote:
lol basically your coach made you run a lot and your complaining, thats not what they want out of you. [/quote]

Actually, our coaches usually just made us run sprints at the end of every practice. The longest continuous run that we ever did was 2 laps around the field for a warm-up.

I can’t say that I never complained about the running, but I do have to say that it helped.

I am just talking about other sports where all I see is them doing the long, continuous run. My friend had to do that in Lacrosse and he lost muscle mass. He also played football, and even with all the sprints, he actually stayed the same weight, but got more endurance. From lacrosse, he just lost weight, didn’t gain any strength (worked out 3 times per week during the season. I know it’s meant to maintain strength, but most of the time, some increase is expected), and he didn’t gain any endurance at all.

[quote]masonator wrote:
Toughness. Coaches want to know you will put your balls on the line. If that means making you run 10 miles even though you’re a O-lineman, so be it.[/quote]

I understand the point about toughness. But I still think that a large amount of sprints with little to no rest is tougher than running ten miles. Make and O-lineman do 10 sets of 100 yard sprints and they will be absolutely dead if they pushed themselves. With the 10 mile run, they can stay at one pace and get used to it, but with the sprints, they are using their last remaining strength to get to their top speed multiple times.

I am a rugby player and we play 2 40 min halfs. I have been going through similar problems. Since its a mens club fitness is really up to us and ive tried numerous things. What I have found is that interval training works best. so if i am going to train on a treadmill i will change the pace every 2 mins until i cant see straight. its hard to get ready for 80 mins of rugby but i think that sprints or interval training is the best. I think long distance running just does mor harm than good. It teaches you to pace yourself when you should be going all out.

There is room for both.
I wrestled in college, and post college-
I needed both, disttance and sprints/hills/intervals.

I really used the longer runs to keep weight down, and to clear my head.
But they were all for time. I did a 10 mile
5 to 6 days a week in the am and later ,
at practice we did a short 2.5 to 5 mile run
again for time and we always did short sprints, hills, 400m sprints etc.

I would do the 10 miles in about an hour,
as the season went on I could do it in under an hour.

Distance training and sprints/intervals work synergistically. Do both.

kmc

[quote]kmcnyc wrote:
There is room for both.
I wrestled in college, and post college-
I needed both, disttance and sprints/hills/intervals.

I really used the longer runs to keep weight down, and to clear my head.
But they were all for time. I did a 10 mile
5 to 6 days a week in the am and later ,
at practice we did a short 2.5 to 5 mile run
again for time and we always did short sprints, hills, 400m sprints etc.

I would do the 10 miles in about an hour,
as the season went on I could do it in under an hour.

Distance training and sprints/intervals work synergistically. Do both.

kmc
[/quote]

Agreed. In my sport, basketball, games are 40 intense minutes long, practices are 2-3 intense hours. How can running sprints for 20-30 minutes, where actual work is maybe for 5-10 minutes going to prepare someone to go hard as hell for an hour or two. Wouldn’t running hard for 10 minutes of “work” time prepare someone to go hard for 10 minutes of game play, not an entire match? You need a sufficient, always developing oxidative system, along with the anaerobic system. Yes, sprints with insufficient rest will develop your aerobic system, but not like pure aerobic work.

My answer? Tempo runs a la CF always throughout the year, with full conditioning sessions that I split up into 4 ten minute quarters so as to simulate the actual length and intensity of a game starting a month or so before pre season.

This aerobic work vs. sprints or interval training for sports continues to be a hotly debated subject in the strength and conditioning field. Alot of this dogmatic belief that having a high level of aerobic capacity or VO2max is superior came from the exercise physiologists from the 80’s and 90’s. Since they are/were the “experts”, most people didn’t question the status quo and took it as gospel.

My personal opinion regarding energy system training is to take a needs analysis approach. Just look at the sport and train the appropriate energy system and manipulate the work/rest ratio to improve conditioning. I also think the ability to recover from maximal or near maximal sprints is far more important than having a high VO2max

I did say that you do both. Just not focus on continuous runs.

But maybe sprints in football pads are harder than without them and I underestimating other sports. So sorry about that, but that was my view on things.

But running 800m in track 2 years back helped my conditioning. But that was basically a full out 800m sprint. Didn’t do so well, only third, but my conditioning was better.

So, I guess I was wrong, but at least I said what I thought.

I have a lot of experience trying to prepare for indoor soccer which involves extremely short and intense repetitive sprinting/direction changes/efforts, with very little rest between each. 2 x 18 minute halves with maybe 1 x 7 minute stint on the bench depending on squad numbers. Ordinary people who don’t know better would say that because its a 36 minute game you should be trying to train your aerobic system, but they’re wrong. It doesn’t help at all (in fact, I think it hinders).

Easily the best way to improve the required work capacities is to play the game itself. My match fitness always removes rapidly at the start of a season NO MATTER WHAT I do in the pre-season.

Apart from time on the pitch, the single most effective and best “bang for buck” thing I’ve done is 400m sprinting. The lactate demands of these are second to none and seem to carryover beautifully to indoor soccer. Even though you never sprint for 400m continuously during indoor soccer, repetitive short sprints and efforts (tackling, shooting, challlening etc) equate to similar work:rest intervals to a CT Running Man style training session.

[quote]jamessanti17 wrote:
I have a lot of experience trying to prepare for indoor soccer which involves extremely short and intense repetitive sprinting/direction changes/efforts, with very little rest between each. 2 x 18 minute halves with maybe 1 x 7 minute stint on the bench depending on squad numbers. Ordinary people who don’t know better would say that because its a 36 minute game you should be trying to train your aerobic system, but they’re wrong. It doesn’t help at all (in fact, I think it hinders).

Easily the best way to improve the required work capacities is to play the game itself. My match fitness always removes rapidly at the start of a season NO MATTER WHAT I do in the pre-season.

Apart from time on the pitch, the single most effective and best “bang for buck” thing I’ve done is 400m sprinting. The lactate demands of these are second to none and seem to carryover beautifully to indoor soccer. Even though you never sprint for 400m continuously during indoor soccer, repetitive short sprints and efforts (tackling, shooting, challlening etc) equate to similar work:rest intervals to a CT Running Man style training session.[/quote]

So, I guess I wasn’t that wrong about soccer?

I have played baseball (extremely competatively) and let me tell you, until the Minors, all coaches (even D1) thought running 5 miles would equal success. Complete bullshit. Train within the parameters of your sport (you still have to do what your coach says to do, even tho it may be wrong) As far as mental toughness goes, thats bullshit too. If that was the case why not just get the team to light themselves on fire? Some of the best baseball players I have ever met were total bitches, but they had plenty of talent and dedication.

Mental toughness in sports is bogus as far as conditioning goes. Mental toughness in regards to failing but getting back up is the key (example, striking out three times in a game but staying confident when your 4th at bat comes around)

[quote]dk44 wrote:
I have played baseball (extremely competatively) and let me tell you, until the Minors, all coaches (even D1) thought running 5 miles would equal success. Complete bullshit. Train within the parameters of your sport (you still have to do what your coach says to do, even tho it may be wrong) As far as mental toughness goes, thats bullshit too.

If that was the case why not just get the team to light themselves on fire? Some of the best baseball players I have ever met were total bitches, but they had plenty of talent and dedication.

Mental toughness in sports is bogus as far as conditioning goes. Mental toughness in regards to failing but getting back up is the key (example, striking out three times in a game but staying confident when your 4th at bat comes around)[/quote]

My football coaches love sprints. And I agree with them.

Your point on mental toughness is a good one. I didn’t really think of it that way. But I do agree with it. Best comeback for our freshman team for football was when we were losing 20-0 by the start of the fourth quarter and we scored 19 (we would have scored 20, but our coach decided to go for 2 instead of the one extra point and we didn’t make it). That was pretty good mental toughness