The off-season brings many tough challenges for coaches, but it also brings some amazing opportunities. This is particularly true for strength and conditioning coaches, who often describe the off-season as “the fun part of the job.”
Villanova Basketball Strength Coach, John Shackleton is no exception to the rule. He relishes the opportunity to build up athletes during the summer months, but he also recognizes the need for having a plan and a process for the progression of his players.
The first thing Shackleton does at the beginning of every off-season is test his players’ maximum ability in several key categories to establish a clear starting point. During these tests, he also monitors their physiology using the Polar Team Pro System.
“I get real values for where they are when they are physically maxed out,” Shackleton says. “I know their max heart rate, their maximum oxygen uptake and their anaerobic threshold.”
Having a solid baseline is a good start, but their progression has to be constantly monitored as athletes continue to improve. Athletes are free of game-planning and academic pressures, and huge improvements can be made in a short amount of time if they are willing to put in the work.
Quality improvements can only be made when athletes are pushing to the brink of what they can handle, without overtraining. The Polar Team Pro System helps Shackleton know where the line is, and it also provides a clear reminder of when it’s time to turn the intensity up again to avoid a plateau.
“As we build them, guys get into better shape,” Shackleton says. “Then we might have to pick up the intensity or make things shorter, but be more intense in order to reach the values we want to hit.”
Polar’s intuitive technology allows Shackleton to step in and keep players on track. Understanding where individual athletes are at in their progression becomes easy to track by every coach in the program with a few clicks.
The Polar Team Pro System helps prevent overtraining too. Shackleton will utilize low-impact aerobic workouts or even hot yoga, when he sees athletes who need to reduce the stress on their joints, while still maintaining their activity level.
Shackleton says the Wildcats will use the Polar Team Pro System during open gyms during the off-season as well, a highly competitive five-on-five workout. This provides a game simulation where Shackleton and the rest of the staff can gain key insights for what to expect during the season.
“I use a lot of the numbers we get during the summer in the preseason to make sure we are where we need to be,” Shackleton says. “We are able to look back and see what we did and compare.”
Once the season starts, the focus naturally shifts from training to winning, but the advantages of using Polar remain the same. Progression in the off-season will lead to progression in season, and the Wildcats have a 2016 National Championship Trophy to prove it.
About Polar – www.polar.com/teamsports
Polar is the Pioneer of wearable sports and fitness technology and leader in heart rate monitoring, activity trackers and training computers. With nearly 40 years of experience and a proud heritage in innovative physiological and sports medical research, we cater to all levels of fitness by offering a comprehensive product range including cycling computers, wearable sports devices and activity trackers, training apps and online services. Our award-winning training computers are the number one choice among consumers worldwide, being sold through over 35,000 retailers globally. Headquartered near Oulu in Finland, Polar is a privately held company that operates in more than 80 countries including U.S. headquarters in Lake Success, NY.