Monday, 25 March 2013

Timetabling in full-time training

Dance schools, conservatoires and companies have a responsibility to care for the overall health and well-being of the dancers they work with. This means on top of technical training providing measures for injury prevention, fitness training, nutritional support, psychological support and a measured approach to workload. Training frequency and scheduling is often waylaid due to other concerns; timetabling tends to be based on what is convenient for studio space or teacher availability, rather than what makes the most sense for the dancers. Scheduling of training can have a significant effect on the dancer's performance and well-being and it is important that companies and schools recognise the implications of their timetabling.

In any given training day, technical class should come before conditioning. This means in both pre-professional or professional institutions, ballet, contemporary or classes for other specific disciplines should be timetabled for the mornings, with any physical conditioning classes occurring later in the day.   The neuromuscular control required for aerobic or strength training will typically be less than that required in technical class or rehearsal; i.e. running requires a lower level of neuromuscular control than technical choreography does. Technique should always be worked on before the dancer is fatigued to lessen likelihood of injury occurring.

The ideal recovery time for positive physical adaptations to occur is 48 hours. Anymore and positive gains will be lost; less than 24 hours and the body is not given adequate recovery time.  Two training sessions per muscle group per week are adequate to produce optimal adaptive response. Higher training frequency may lead to overtraining of the muscle, producing suboptimal results.

If using any high intensity training as part of a conditioning programme, it is crucial to leave at least a day between sessions to allow the body to recover and avoid overtraining. When working with an athletic population it is important to balance the overall workload, i.e. technique, repetoire and supplementary training. Conditioning work for an individual in full-time training requires a more considered approach to recovery than individuals in recreational training as the body continues to be taxed during other periods of the working day such as technical class and rehearsal. In pre-professional training, theory components or lower intensity classes such as choreography or pedagogy should intersperse higher-intensity classes such as technique or conditioning to provide opportunities for physical recovery.

Key points:
  • Technical training should occur earlier in the day than conditioning
  • Strength training sessions should be spaced at least 1 day apart - this is especially important with high intensity training
  • Technique classes should not be more than 2 days apart
  • Intersperse days of high training load with days of lower training load
  • Classes and rehearsals should not exceed 90 minutes without a break
  • Schedule rest periods throughout the day
  • A maximum of three training sessions/week on any specific fitness parameter is recommended to avoid development of overtraining symptoms
  • Individuals in full-time training may find lower frequency of conditioning sessions (twice a week) are vastly preferable to higher frequency (3-4 times a week) depending on the overall workload.
(c) Lois Green 1993

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