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Special Work Capacity- An Objective, Quantifiable Approach to Train Athletes of Team Sport Disciplines Anthony Daisy, M.Ed., CSCS. (formerly) Auburn University Contributors: Matt Nichols, M.Sc., CSCS Head S&C, Toronto Maple Leafs Jeremy Holsopple, B.A., CSCS

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Special Work Capacity- An Objective, Quantifiable Approach to Train Athletes of Team Sport Disciplines

Anthony Daisy, M.Ed., CSCS.

(formerly) Auburn University


Matt Nichols, M.Sc., CSCS

Head S&C, Toronto Maple Leafs

Jeremy Holsopple, B.A., CSCS

Head S&C, New York Dragons

a search for knowledge and understanding
A Search for Knowledge and Understanding
  • Bridge the gap between research and practice
  • Question what is being done esp. at the elite levels of sport
a search for knowledge and understanding1
A Search for Knowledge and Understanding
  • Great thinkers always ask questions and attempt to find truth!
  • Improve Performance
  • “How can we make our athlete’s better within the context of having the highest training result being obtained at the least expense of time and energy” Kurz
take home message
Take Home Message
  • Evaluate what we as trainers do
    • Manage training
    • Scrutinize Sport Training Process
  • Be a better consumer of information
    • Is the information that you receive sound
      • Context is everything
    • Learn how to decipher literature
      • Text Book vs. Real World
  • Stay objective
  • Continue to learn!
presentation directory
  • Motive
  • Theory of Training
  • Physiology
  • Examples of Research Data
  • The sport training process for team sport disciplines is a multi-faceted process, requiring the concurrent preparation and development of several physiological systems and motor abilities as an organic whole-
    • training is as alive as the organism- Matvyev, Ozlin, Verkhoshansky, Siff, Zatsiorski, Viru, Smith, etc.
  • The aim of coaching, in this regard, is to understand and employ a system(s) of training appropriate for both discipline and athlete, allowing the assembly of all training objectives whereby the improvement of sport result is assured
  • i.e. American Football, Basketball, Fight Sports:
      • Anaerobic Alactic, Lactic & Aerobic Metabolism (%’s vary)
        • power and capacity (%’s vary)
      • Idiosyncrasies in work capacity
      • Multiple strength qualities
      • Fine motor skills, visual equity, etc.
      • Knowledge to execute tactics and technique
      • Strong psychological component



  • Regardless of the training programming and periodization regimes utilized to train a particular sport discipline, training loads must be scrupulously manipulated to successfully heighten these multiple systems and abilities throughout the training year.
  • The ultimate endpoint being that the athlete attains the highest level of Sport Form at the desired time within the competitive calendar
“Upon conscientious review of training programs that serve to heighten physical preparation, it is not uncommon to see more than elaborate plans that develop various motor qualities such as strength and speed, but also, it is not uncommon to see little attention devoted to developing the special endurance or the physiological/bioenergetic qualities needed for sport preparation i.e. biological power…..
…careful details are greatly paid to the programming of means, volumes and intensities in the weight room. Conversely, a light jog, pushing and pulling of apparati or “speed work” of no physiological logic are often ignorantly employed as “conditioning” means or intended as psychological methods.”

Anthony Daisy

  • Would this style of training bring about….
    • the highest degree of Sport Form at the desired time within the competitive calendar?
    • The highest degree of sport form at the least expense of time and energy?
  • How do we train all relevant systems appropriate for sport, athlete, position etc.

With respect to programming conditioning…. There are a few problems coaches of higher level athletes encounter

  • The coach must manipulate the sport training process so that the most important technical/tactical/motor abilities/work capacities etc. are planned harmoniously among each other and optimally realized at the most important times within the annual plan. J. Smith
  • Some of these abilities must be independently trained for optimal realization
    • However: All abilities are important and highly related within the training process
    • No one ability can be viewed independently
  • The physiological incompatibility of simultaneous motor quality training (strength/power/technique) with (special) endurance training
    • The training of team sports brings about an interesting dichotomy
      • develop various motor abilities
        • technique, strength, power, speed & agility etc,
    • Concurrent training: Attenuation of either motor or endurance indices together, or independently when both are employed in concert as primary training objectives.
    • Develop the special fitness of these same motor abilities (special endurance or work capacities) in the attempt to realizing their greatest possible technique, strength, power, speed & agility etc on multiple occasions throughout the course of competition


  • Within the framework of classical annual plan programming, the percentage of time allocated to train certain abilities are emphasized while others are either omitted or reduced
    • GPP; SPP
    • Early Off-season periods; late off-season periods; in-season etc
    • Consider appropriate Periodazation regimes
      • Concurrent; Block; Linear (see presentation 2)
why the particular interest with conditioning
Why the Particular Interest with Conditioning?
  • Out of all aspects of training, “conditioning” is the ability least studied
      • Get your “cardio” up
      • Lends itself to recipe coaching
        • Methods are employed regardless of athlete preparation
      • Limited team sport information regarding conditioning programming. Most of the literature is derived from individual sports and what “successful” coaches have done
        • Problem of modeling programs that are successful
      • We all know we need it… we are just not sure as to how much, how specific, how and when it is individually trained
      • Pendulum change as to how we condition our athletes
        • Too much or too little & of the wrong type
          • Differences between General and Specific work capacities……
why the particular interest in conditioning
Why the Particular Interest in Conditioning?

…..Just like strength, there are many different qualities of “conditioning”, each too distinct to be trained or labeled en masse

  • Special Endurance vs Aerobic Capacity
  • General and Specific Work Capacities, etc.
  • Each affecting the development of sport form in its own unique way and therefore cannot be viewed under one single entity or posses a sole title
  • Client example: Stepper vs Treadmill
purpose 1

As coaches, why are we doing what we are doing if…

  • It is not congruent with physiology
  • It does not transfer to augment sport form

1. Question what is currently been done for conditioning means and methodics in Acyclic sports, in particular team sports, at High School, Collegiate and esp. Professional Levels

    • “What is popular is not always right & What is right is not always popular”
purpose 11
  • Rarely do any of us objectively question the effectiveness of the routines we prescribe.
  • Often we assume that the work we are doing transfers in a positive way to the sport discipline.
    • An increase in weight room outcomes result in an increase in sport form, right!?!? – (CACC REFERENCE)
    • Lack of measurement
  • Many types of training work!
    • How can we make our athlete’s better within the context of having the highest training result being obtained at the least expense of time and energy
exercise physiology
Exercise Physiology
  • Energy systems
    • A brief look at bioenergetics
  • Physiological adaptations to training
    • Possible physiological adaptation with training
interaction between aerobic and anaerobic atp production
Interaction Between Aerobic and Anaerobic ATP Production

Energy to perform exercise comes from an interaction between aerobic and anaerobic pathways

Effect of duration and intensity

Short-term, high-intensity activities

Greater contribution of anaerobic energy systems

Long-term, low to moderate-intensity exercise

Majority of ATP produced from aerobic sources


Formation of ATP

Anaerobic pathways

Phosphocreatine (PC) breakdown

Degradation of glucose and glycogen (glycolysis)

Aerobic pathways

Oxidative formation of ATP





Original Intracellular Lactate Shuttle











Sites remote

From mitochondria

Sites near


Intracellular lactate flux












aerobic atp production
Aerobic ATP Production

Krebs cycle (citric acid cycle)

Completes the oxidation of substrates and produces NADH and FADH to enter the electron transport chain

Electron transport chain

Oxidative phosphorylation

Electrons removed from NADH and FADH are passed along a series of carriers to produce ATP

H+ from NADH and FADH are accepted by O2 to form water

control of bioenergetics
Control of Bioenergetics



Rate Limiting Enzymes

1. Creatine kinase

2. Phosphofructokinase

3. Isocitrate dehydrogenase

4. Cytochrome oxidase


ATP-PC System


Glucose 6-phosphate






Lactic Acid

Pyruvic Acid



Acetyl CoA

Fatty acids

Amino Acids












Table 3.2




%’s in each system vary

  • Athlete qualification
  • Position
  • Period of time within the competition
  • Coaching style / tactics
  • Sport discipline etc.
recovery from exercise metabolic responses
Recovery From Exercise Metabolic Responses

Oxygen debt or

Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC)

Elevated VO2 for several minutes immediately following exercise

“Fast” portion of O2 debt

Resynthesis of stored PC

Replacing muscle and blood O2 stores

“Slow” portion of O2 debt

Elevated Heart rate and breathing,  energy need

Elevated body temperature,  metabolic rate

Elevated Epinephrine & Norepinephrine,  metabolic rate

Conversion of lactic acid to glucose (gluconeogenesis)

metabolic response to exercise short term intense exercise
Metabolic Response to Exercise Short-Term Intense Exercise

High-intensity, short-term exercise (2-20 seconds)

ATP production through ATP-PC system

Intense exercise longer than 20 seconds

ATP production via anaerobic glycolysis

High-intensity exercise longer than 45 seconds

ATP production through ATP-PC, glycolysis, and aerobic systems

lactate threshold
Lactate Threshold

The point at which blood lactic acid suddenly rises during incremental exercise

Also called the anaerobic threshold

Mechanisms for lactate threshold

Low muscle oxygen

Accelerated glycolysis

Recruitment of fast-twitch muscle fibers

Reduced rate of lactate removal from the blood

Practical uses in prediction of performance and as a marker of exercise intensity

cell to cell lactate shuttle
Cell-to-Cell Lactate Shuttle


























properties of muscle fiber types
Properties of Muscle Fiber Types

Biochemical properties

Oxidative capacity

Type of ATPase

Contractile properties

Maximal force production

Speed of contraction

Muscle fiber efficiency

can fiber type be changed
Can fiber type be changed?


Chronic stimulation

10 Hz, 24 h/day, 56 days

White to red shift

Fast to slow shift

alteration of fiber type by training
Alteration of Fiber Type by Training

Endurance and resistance training

Can result in shift from Type IIx to IIa fibers

Toward more oxidative properties

age related changes in skeletal muscle
Age-Related Changes in Skeletal Muscle

Aging is associated with a loss of muscle mass

Rate increases after 50 years of age

Regular exercise training can improve strength and endurance

Cannot completely eliminate the age-related loss in muscle mass

physiological adaptations to training
Physiological Adaptations to Training
  • There are multiple – mechanistic-physiological adaptations to training
    • The physiological adaptation will be directly related to the stimuli applied to the organism
physiological adaptations to training1
Physiological Adaptations to Training
  • Speed/Power/Intensive work
    • Neural Adaptations
      • MN firing rates
      • Coordination
      • Alpha and Gama adaptations
    • Structural Adaptations
      • Connective tissue (Facial, lig. Tendon)
      • Skeletal Muscle hypertrophy, hyperplasia- assembly of contractile apparatus (actin, myosin & titin etc.)
      • Myoisoform shift to white characteristics
      • Biochemical & Enzymatic changes (Ca++ ATPase)
      • Specific metabolic changes
physiological adaptations to training2
Physiological Adaptations to Training
  • Endurance/Extensive work
    • Central or Cardiac Pulmonary Adaptations
      • Ventricular Myocyte alterations- mass & contractile ability
      • Enzymatic (Ca++ ATPase)
      • Alveolar network
    • Peripheral Adaptations
      • Angiogenesis, capilliarization
      • Blood oxygen carrying capacity
      • Mitochondria biogenesis- size and number
      • Myoisoform shift to red characteristics
physiological adaptations to training3
Physiological Adaptations to Training

Conditioning (adaptive, physiological perspective)

  • Pros: generically stimulates aerobic system
  • Cons: competes negatively with physiological reserves & possibly neural adaptations
physiological adaptations to training4
Physiological Adaptations to Training

When training Coaches must ask?

  • 1. Does the work athletes do transfer and augment Sport Form
  • 2. If there is no direct transfer, is the athlete doing this work to build a base for, or augment, another system or ability.
      • While one form of work may not transfer to the competitive event it may yield a supportive role in more specific forms of loading. (CACC reference)
  • 3. Values are only relevant to the Preparation of the athlete
why is there a disconnect
Why is there a disconnect?
  • So why are we training our athletes the way we train them?
  • A few assumptions lend themselves as to the reasoning why such an occurrence is seen, even among highly skilled sportsmen, within the coaching community:
why is there a disconnect1
Why is there a disconnect?
  • Coaches are famous for their legions to their favorite programs, methodologies and training systems…. no matter how good or bad
    • stem from their devotion to passed behaviours and mentors
  • Assume transference, but no one ever measures it
    • Verkhoshanski talks about the importance of monitoring training
    • Bondarchuk’s recent (soon to be classical) text training transfer
why is there a disconnect2
Why is there a disconnect?
  • Sport training is a lucrative Industry and marketplace
    • Capitalistic Society
    • Instead of learning relevant physiology, biomechanics, motor learning & training methodology coaches are subjected to current trends
why is there a disconnect3
Why is there a disconnect

The 3 factors that characterize the current status of training methodology:

  • the probability to discover new, original and very effective training means is very low now. There are many effective means already discovered. The best way to improve the results comes from the methods and systems that uses them;
  • the volume of training loads achieved the limit of reasonableness. Today professional athletes are training about 8 hours per day, 2-4 times during the day, near to 1,700 hours per year. It’s quite impossible to imagine any further increase of load volume. We should look for models that assure the most rational use of the training loads over the year cycle;
  • today there is the tendency to increase the intensity of the training work to increase the effectiveness of the training process, especially for the top class athletes. This is an expedient that needs to be used very carefully according to the qualification of athletes, the level of their preparedness and the calendar of competitions.


why is there a disconnect4
Why is there a disconnect?

“The coach fails to truly understand the training appropriate to realize bioenergetic development for the sport, and position within a sport. Tudor Bompa best describes coaching requirements pertaining to implementing training in this regard ‘The coach’s acquaintance with the specifics of competition is a prerequisite for successfully modeling the training process….. The coach must fully understand the specifics of the work structure, such as volume, intensity, complexity …. Familiarity with the contribution ratio of aerobic and anaerobic systems for a sport or event is important in understanding the aspects to emphasize in training.’“

Anthony Daisy

why is there a disconnect5
Why is there a disconnect?

“The coach fails to understand the biomechanical technique upon which the bioenergetics should be expressed during training. This failure may resort in the manifestation of unfavorable technique during competition. This is often seen when quantity, not quality of speed and endurance execution is employed by coaches to get their athletes in “game shape”, or when the means chosen by the coach in no way satisfy the mechanical peculiarities needed for technical competency during competition, especially under conditions of fatigue. It should be understood that team sport athletes need not the technical acceleration abilities of an elite sprinter, they must, however, be able to replicate greater than remedial execution of positive and negative acceleration mechanics.”

Anthony Daisy

why is there a disconnect6
Why is there a disconnect?

“The coach fails to understand programming which incorporates all aspects of fitness. The training taxonomy must be appropriately managed when “special work capacity” work is programmed. This may be due, in part, to neglecting how the “strength work” positively or negatively affects “conditioning work” and vice versa. The result is that the coach is remiss or unaware of the appropriate training stimulus needed to induce a desired training effect, especially when this training stimulus is employed concurrently with other training irritants (such as strength, tactics and technique etc), as well as to athletes of dissimilar fitness.”

Anthony Daisy

why is there a disconnect7
Why is there a disconnect?
  • The western sport training process is largely void of mindfulness physiology. Until this situation is resolved we will continue to observe the most successful of sport programs continue to attain results that, while they exist in a state of excellence in relative terms, are well beneath what is truly attainable. Meanwhile, uniformed program administrators and media are none the wiser.
  • The solution to this problem lies in rectifying the misdirected lessons that are taught in academia to those individuals who aspire to work, at any conceivable capacity, in the industry of sport
          • James Smith
why is there a disconnect8
Why is there a disconnect?

“Much of the confusion placed on conditioning seems to be apparent in team sports rather than individual cyclic sports. The individual peculiarities of team sports (tactical style of play, level of preparedness, etc.) bring about different degrees of freedom as to the energy provision needed during the course of a game situation. This is opposed to cyclic sports, where the ergogenesis is relatively stable as the competitive distances covered are finite. Furthermore, the ergogenesis of team sports, shown elsewhere (Bompa), may be inappropriate for sports where the athlete qualification or style of play may differ from those sports where the original data were developed. Therefore, the coach must be aware of this fact if he is to rely on this data while programming, as the data may be erroneous.”

Anthony Daisy

disclaimer beyond the textbook
Disclaimer- Beyond the textbook
  • I have full consideration of the fact that there are no means (lab, omegawave or otherwise) that can offer the certainty of direct energy provision for a given sport, position, player etc. Also, I think putting an over emphasis on one area is never a good idea, especially with team sport. It is also not the intent to duplicate the demands of a competition, as this feat is almost impossible in training (even research is equivocal in the area of bioenergetics). It is the objective here to better understand and approximate the energy system contribution with further quality

Anthony Daisy

purpose 2

Objectively analyze the special work capacity needed for sport

Objective quantifiable data- this is what really happens

  • Improve technical ability at higher speeds, at a greater more specific work capacities for longer periods of time, more frequently.
    • The ability for the athlete to repeatedly demonstrate a maximal effort of high quality throughout a contest
  • Unlike strength training, only theoretical models exists concerning “conditioning” transference to sport form.
    • Little primary research
    • Anecdotal experience
    • Sport theory and methodology from individual cyclic sports or non-team power/speed sports (classic Metveyev model)
  • Look at the players, not the game.
how do we measure it
How Do We Measure It
  • HR
  • Video Analysis
  • Physiological Markers
    • Use top Athlete within each subset as barometer
how do we measure it hr
How Do We Measure It- HR
  • Central computing data based
    • Polar models T2
      • HR variability
      • See how HR’s fluctuate at given times within competition or practice
        • Model this for training
how do we measure it video analysis
How Do We Measure It- Video Analysis
  • Time motion software capable of converting visual sport play (via a digital video camera) into:
    • distances traveled
    • times
    • speed; velocity and accelerations
    • frequency of player movement
    • attained at arbitrary selected match times (i.e. 1st half vs. 2nd half etc.) or through an entire competition.
  • With this information we have the ability to know exactly:
    • how many sprints
    • runs
    • jogs
    • walks
    • performed for a given distance, by a given positional player, at a given intensity, at a given time during the game, etc.
  • We can also note the development of fatigue, aid in the selection of means and methodics used to heighten strength/speed qualities during training, as well as observe technical flaws in movement (especially upon fatigue commencement) etc.
others who have done similar work
Others who have done similar work

Physiological and Biomechanical Peculiarities of Different Sporting Disciplines

  • Verkhoshansky
    • Dynamic Correspondence
  • Bondarchuk
    • Training transfer
  • Prozone
    • Video analysis
basic criteria for the dynamic correspondence
Basic Criteria for the Dynamic Correspondence
  • Verkhoshansky
    • Amplitude and direction of movement
    • Accentuated region of force production
    • Dynamics of the effort
    • Rate and time of maximum force production
    • Regime of muscular work
other factors to consider
Other factors to consider
  • Siff and Verkhoshansky
    • Type of Muscle Contraction
    • Movement Pattern
    • Region of Movement
    • Velocity of Movement
    • Force of Contraction
    • Muscle Fiber Recruitment
    • Metabolism
    • Biochemical Adaptation
    • Flexibility
    • Fatigue
our group s data
Our Group’s Data
  • Matt Nichol S&C, Toronto Maple Leafs
    • Analyzed the relationship between their current strength and conditioning methods to “biological power” improvements

2. To determine if their methods of practicing are effectively preparing their players to perform in a game situation

      • Used two NHL and two AHL regular season games
      • Measured heart rates, lactate accumulation and time-motion analysis.
        • Novel technique at the professional hockey level
results summary
Results Summary
  • 40 min practice analysis consisting of 7 different drills.
  • 2.31s- average duration of a maximal sprint in each drill
    • similar to the average sprint time observed in games.
  • One repeat of each drill averaged 8.23s of work time
    • similar to the average work time at maximum intensity during a game for forwards and slightly lower than what is seen for defencemen.
  • Average lactate at the end of practice was 6.72 mmol/L
    • similar to the lactate levels seen at the ends of periods during game play
    • suggesting a high speed of recovery for the players analyzed & lactate metab is not as high as once thought.
  • Each player performed approximately 8:21s (max speeds) of total work time in the practice.
    • Research would suggest that this is enough work to provide an anaerobic-alactic conditioning effect.
    • Conclude: This is not how most NHL S&C coaches prepare their athletes for the season
results summary other
Results Summary….Other
  • Testing and training camp velocities and accelerations were much higher compared to the velocities and accelerations during practice.
  • Little difference between velocities and accelerations when the players are handling the puck and when they are not.
  • No significant decrease in velocity or acceleration from the beginning of practice to the end
sample new york dragons

Show data

Show video


a simplified 5 factor model for assessing specificity
A simplified 5-factor model for assessing specificity
  • Range of Motion
  • Type of Contraction
  • Magnitude of Resistance
  • Direction of Resistance
  • Energy System
sample tcu women s basketball
  • The following illustrates a conditioning template during the General and Physical Preparation for women’s basketball at the collegiate level.
    • The training taxonomy shown below will be dictated by the training targets (as described at the beginning of each training block), and the individual needs of the athletes. It should also be considered that only relevant work done within the context of conditioning would be shown here. The conditioning work will be congruent with ALL training stimuli, such as strength training, therapy and sport practice. Only the first microcycle will be shown for each training block, with subsequent microcyles being adjusted according to the undulating volumes and intensities as typically seen in a concurrent periodized training model. As always, training will be constantly and reliably monitored, allowing scrutiny of the training process, program efficacy as well as allowing the coach to approximate athlete readiness.
solutions to training
Solutions to Training
  • Special work capacity relevant only WR2 microcycle taxonomy
    • WR2 general conditioning building aerobic capacity for the duration of the match (i.e. 60-90 minutes) that does not compete negatively with speed/power/technique work regimes
    • Training should always be as individual whenever possible, even when working with team sports
  • Distance covered, duration, HR Rest & recovery have all got to be specific.
  • Football probably does not need significant lactic capacity work
  • Values are only relevant to the Preparation of the athlete