Since the beginning of (cheerleading) time, we have been told “if you can do it tired, you can do it fresh”, but science has proven otherwise.
*confusion sets in*.. wait what!?
The mind and the body is so much smarter than we sometimes give it credit for. When we are training skills and more specifically learning skills (without getting too sciency), we are training our brains and our bodies to do the same skill the same way every time; however, the muscle fibres we use when we are fresh versus when we are tired, are actually - different.
When you learn a skill, you groove that motor pattern with a certain muscle fibre based on your fatigue level. If you go and run a 5K and then try to do the skill, will you be able to do it? Maybe? But will you be using the same muscle fibres and motor patterns, no!
Now, let’s think about a competition scenario.
You have a quick stretch in the hallway and 15 minutes to warm up your skills backstage. Then you wait... You might stand and wait in the holding area for another 10-20 minutes depending on how unlucky you are 🤪.
So when we are stepping on the mat, are we using fresh or fatigued muscles and muscle fibers? FRESH!
Knowing that, how can we adapt our training to mimic competition scenarios and therefore groove the appropriate motor patterns in order to best prepare our athletes? Train fresh and ensure appropriate REST is worked into your training.
Keep an eye out for a blog post on practice design!
Anyways, moving on...
The next question we always get is - should we fatigue our athletes to train skills that come later in the routine? And the answer is no.
*okay now confusion really sets in*... wait what!?
Keep fatigue to a minimum even when training sections that may be near the end of the routine.
This is because fatigue interferes with learning (as we stated above), and the skill being done near the end of the routine will not be completed the same way if you keep developing fatigue before it.
SOO... this means, it is important to run your routine in chunks to improve the coordination of all components of the routine. As the coordination improves, effort levels drop and so does fatigue.
The routine will be easier to run.
Dr. Scott explains; “this is just scratching the surface of this concept but is so important for setting your athletes up for success”.
Fatigue and practice design are two of Dr. Scott’s favorite topics to talk about. He could talk for hours.. And did at the 2019 & 2020 Spring Conference. But, this information isn’t a secret! He wants to share! Got questions? Post a question below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
If you found this helpful, don’t forget to share it with your friends (or your coach!).