Surfing the Internet this morning, I found an interview with MMA Champion Forrest Griffin talking about training his guys on The Ultimate Fighter 7:
It was hard to tailor the workouts to the guys. Matt Brown and Jesse Taylor could do whatever you threw at them and ask for more. Nick Klein would work himself into the ground doing what you asked but it would be over-training for him and he got worse over the course of the show. He did whatever I asked and never complained but he over trained instead of backing off.
Training a team presents similar problems because each player is at a different level and has a different capacity. Some finish practice and are ready for more. Some finish and are done. Coaches have difficulty meeting the individual needs of players while “being fair” to the team. It’s part of the art of coaching, balancing each player’s needs within a team environment. Each player has different physical needs and psychological needs. Some players really need to be pushed while others can push themselves.
Few coaches worry about over-training, though many players suffer performance plateaus because they train too much or too hard, not because they fail to train. Rest and the taper before competition is as important as the training, as without the rest and taper, the athlete sabotages his training.
It worked out well for some guys and not so well for others. But eventually the guys decided what they were going to do. I gave them workout options and they decided whether or not they were going to do that or go on the treadmill or whatever else they needed.
With older, experienced and mature players, the players should have some control over their environment. This does not undermine the coach’s role, but it does empower the athlete and put the responsibility for improvement with the athlete, rather than the coach. The coach is the guide, not a dictator.