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Fatigue and the Student Athlete.....

To understand how to manage the complexity of the different types of fatigue that can impact the performance of an athlete one has to first appreciate the enormous changes that occur to the student athlete body and brain during the period from adolescence to young adulthood.

Not only is the student athlete entering a time of huge physical and emotional growth as they steer towards adulthood but they are also impacted by external stressors from rigorous academic workloads, new social dynamics, travel stress (if driving themselves), decreased levels of serotonin and to top it off, a new daily athletic routine that leaves very little room for downtime or recovery.

The accumulative effect on the athlete both physically and mentally is metaphorically equivalent to leaving the car engine running all day and all night every day ! Your student athlete will eventually run out of gas !

Unless carefully monitored, planned, structured and supported the athlete will be left feeling depleted, the coach left feeling exasperated perhaps even resorting to increasing his/her training load and the parents left flustered at the poor academic results exclaiming their child is now a "lazy teenager ! ".

But this is not the case ! The teenager is just completely enervated ! And here's why.....

On top of an unstructured or vague planing from the student athlete, if the High School or College Coach has not periodically trained in the right zones, allocated rest or very light aerobic days into the weekly, monthly and seasonal training program to allow adaptation of the rigorous training and back to back competition load combined with the academic load, student athletes are at high risk of not only feeling physically fatigued but mentally expired.

The two common types of fatigue, aside from physical fatigue that your athlete may experience are Central Nervous Fatigue and Peripheral Fatigue. Here's what it may look like or present in your athlete (but not limited to):

Central Nervous System Fatigue (CNS) - is where there is a decreased ability to fire the muscles at the normal desired rate and may also causes cognitive impairment that will affect mood and behavior ability to concentrate.

Peripheral fatigue - reduction in force and strength, creating feelings of weakness, shortness of breath, overall general lethargy.

Athletes with one or both may be delivering the same sustained effort but the output and results are massively reduced. Over time he/she may continue to decline increasing susceptibility to illness or injury due to poor biomechanics. While this continues they may complain of aches and pains, mental fog, feeling flat and an inability to finish tasks.

The good news is all of the above is AVOIDABLE through periodization and supplementation of my program ANR - Athlete Neuroplasticity Reset which is focused on balancing the elite athlete.

By training your athlete in the correct zones and implementation of periods of structured active rest you can not only avoid but even predict declines in health or signs of overtraining.

Remember more is not always better. The athlete requires balance to accommodate the stress that is coming from non physical factors as much as it needed to adapt to the physical stress. This requires the coach to have a big picture view of the overall student athlete program - or to work with someone who can !

Athletes can also help themselves (ANR) by taking responsibility of their own "active rest" away from school and athletic responsibilities.

If you or your team would like help in structuring ways to balance your periodization and find new ways to implement active rest contact Coach B to not only enhance your performance but prevent burn out and long term cognitive impairment.

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