|SWIM PARENTING 101 - BURN OUT & OVERTRAINING|| |
Apr 11, 2012
Making the most of your swimming & other sports
Educating athletes and parents is a never ending process for coaches. On our team we want our swimming families to be well educated in the concept of sports as well as training and to make informed choices and decisions when proceeding from season to season.
First we would like to address two catch words that parents tend to talk about from time to time. One is the concept of ‘Burn Out’ and the other is the idea of ‘Overtraining’. Both are real but in reality they rarely pertain to younger and lower competitive levels of athletes.
Burn Out occurs when the athlete perceives that what they are putting into the activity is not providing enough rewards. Some people are burned out from day one they just don’t like being physically challenged. Some don’t like spending so much time in the water. If an athlete chooses one sport over another that is not really burn out, though there are children who will not commit to one or two things. It is not as much that they want to try everything but more that when something is new it is easier.
As you get more experienced over time it actually gets harder to get better. In other words, they take the easier road when given the option. One suggestion, no matter what the activity, teach your children to finish what they start, not to quit when it seems a little tough or they are not as excited.
There was one study done several years ago in the Pacific Northwest. The term burn out was becoming very prevalent so they looked to see over a span of time where were the greatest losses in the sport. The belief was that they were losing more veteran athletes who had achieved success than those who did not. What they found was that B and below swimmers who trained 3 times or less per week left the sport at a rate of 5 to 1 compared to A and above swimmers who trained 4 or more times a week.
USA Swimming does have statistics nationwide on the loss of swimmers at different levels of performance. They do not have any data on how often these athletes trained but the general data does support the informal study done in the Pacific NW. Swimmers with less competitive times leave the sport at a much greater rate than those whose times are more competitive.
Overtraining is a situation where the body cannot recover from or adapt to the daily training regimen. Everyone is able to adapt to increasing work levels. There are some individualities as to how much or how far, but in general, overtraining will occur when an athlete trains 4 – 6 hours each day, usually 6 to 7 days each week. It is virtually impossible for a healthy child to become over trained on 2 or less hours a day, even if they practice 6 days each week. Of course poor diet or illness creates a different situation, but given a short amount of time any young athlete can easily acclimate to a 10 – 12 hour per week training regime.
In our program we do not have attendance requirements, but what we do recommend for best success at each level are the following;
Stroke Team [5-7 yr.] 2 – 3 times per week, 1 hr. each time.
Blue Team [6–8 yr.] 3 – 4 times per week, 1 hr. each practice.
Silver Team [9 yr. olds] 3 – 4 times per week, 90 minutes each practice.
[10 yrs. old and older] 4 – 6 times per week, 90 minutes.
We also recommend at this stage that the athletes supplement their practices with a series of ‘drylands’ at home, hopefully along with you, their parent. 3 x 20 leg lifts/sit ups/crunches, 4 x 5 push ups, 3 x 8 chair dips. This could be a great parent/child connection.
Swimmers 13 yrs. & older, if they want to succeed at the sport they need to be swimming 6 days a week, barring illness and excessive schoolwork. They can maintain and in some cases even improve at 4 times each week, but for more improvement they need the 6 practices.
We do not require any of these attendance standards but we do not have any magic that can overcome the reality that anyone will be as good as they possibly would be going 5 or 6 practices when they are only attending 3 – 4 practices each week. The more often your swimmer attends the better they will be, this is true in any sport that requires training equal to or greater than skill acquisition.
Any questions, please feel free to contact your our coaches.