This is the first blog from the future collection of many published at PlaySmartTennis. These blogs will represent scientific based explanation about all the aspects of training process that can help the coaches, athletes and parents to understand how does athlete respond to the training stress and why.

Quantifying the training load and measuring it helps the coaches and athletes to understand the process progression at the practice and tournament during a period of time. Information about the progression is crucial as the coach can understand which of the practice elements the athlete has already implemented successfully into the game. Systematically monitoring the physiological and psychological changes of the athletes performances, helps to determine the effectiveness of the practice and based on that to analyze the efficiency of the training program.

Basically the goal of any monitored practice program would be increasing the chances for the optimal performance, but reducing the risk of nonfunctional overreaching, overtraining, illness, and injury. Monitoring and quantifying the training dosage (load) would be the most important aspect for any practice program to begin, as it directly influences the physical, psychological, technical and tactical element of the training. This paper will explain the methods of measuring how does the athlete responds physiologically and psychologically to the training loads and based on these information, the training dosage should be modified. The relationship between the training load dosage and how does the athlete response to it determines the efficiency of the training performance as the final outcome.

Load, strain, stress
The stress in sports is adopted from physics where stress is introduced in mechanics in Hook’s Law (Robert Hook, 1660). Hooke’s law is the law of elasticity and states that deformation of the object or change of its size is directly proportional to the force or load that causes the changes. Upon load removal the object returns to its original shape and size.
Hooke’s law is expressed in terms of load, stress and strain. Stress is the force within a material in the object that is created due to the externally applied force (load). Strain is the object deformation produced by stress. For relatively small stresses, stress is proportional to strain.

By Hook’s Law:
a) the load that acts on an object (in his case spring, but in our case athlete’s body, organs and tissues) causes the proportional change in shape (or body state, such as homeostasis) which is termed as a strain.
b) This change in shape is accompanied by an energetic charge within the object (strain in his case, body in ours) which is termed as stress.
c) When the load is removed, the object returns to its original size. The energy (force) stored in the object (stress) is making this possible.

When the load is removed, the object returns to its original state as long as the stress limit (point of extreme strain) of the object is not reached. Beyond that point, object is prone to the non reversible deformation or breakage. The critical load for the object is the point which causes the change in the structure of the object which is not returned to its original state after the load was removed. The full recovery of the structure is expected as soon as the load is removed, but if the load was too large and therefore creating large energetic charge in the object beyond the stress point, then the object would experience the fully deformation.
Before reaching the critical load, strain and stress are directly proportional so the terms can be used as interchangeable. Beyond this point, stress is the crucial variable as strain (change in length of the object) and stress (energetic state in the object with the purpose of returning the structures of the object in the initial length) are no more interchangeable the deformation occurs.

When monitoring and managing the training process, the important aspect to consider is the relationship between the acute stimulus of a single training session and how does that stimulus effect the training process. Fatigue that occurs during a training session is a normal response of the athlete to the training. Within the next few hours, the athlete should begin the recovery process which can last to a day or two depending on the training load that was put on him. If fully recovered, the athlete should adapt to the previous stress which should lead to the improvement in the performance. If there is not enough time for the recovery or if the athlete or coach haven’t matched the values of the training stress with the recovery, then the acute fatigue condition could lead into much serious maladaptive physiological and psychological disturbances.

NEXT BLOG: Overreaching/Overtraining/Supercompensation 

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