Successful Taper Strategies
Scientific research on taper has shed some light on how the body reacts biologically and psychologically to tapering.
The training load is comprised of three factors: volume, intensity and frequency.
Reductions in training volume – Reductions in training volume from 40-90% from pre-taper workloads to the conclusion of taper have been shown to be effective. If coaches are unsure of training volume reductions then 41-60% is a safe bet. Volume reductions refer to total volume of taper versus total volume of previous training block. Individual differences, previous training, gender, muscle mass are factors that should be taken into consideration by the coach.
Reductions in frequency – Reduction in frequency of training sessions greater than 20% have been shown to have negative effects on performance. Researchers concluded that a possible reason could be a neuromuscular decrease in ‘feel’ for the water.
Reducing intensity – According to research studies, maintaining high intensity levels during taper is critical to a successful taper. Several studies examined higher intensity tapers versus lower intensity tapers and concluded that higher intensity tapers resulted in greater improvements in performance. This means that taper is not just a time to float. How much intensity is enough? This is for coaches to decide, understanding their athletes and their previous training level, gender, muscle mass, race distance and number of days of competition.
Duration of taper – Positive physiological and performance adaptations have been observed as a result of taper periods lasting 10, 14, 21 and 28 days. According to research studies, most swimmers reported a positive result with tapers lasting about two weeks. Effective taper duration is very variable and a coach must consider all of the factors previously mentioned.
Never discount the power of belief. Let your swimmers know that they have performed great training and they are now undertaking the best designed taper.
Before Taper Training Block
Frequency: 10 Practices per Week
Duration: 14 Days
Volume: 110 km total
Intensity: Some high-intensity swim
Frequency: 8 Practices per Week
Duration: 14 Days
Volume: 44-66 km total
Intensity: Some high-intensity swim (don’t just float)
The final decisions on the totals of each are based on the coaches’ knowledge of their swimmers.
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