Game Play for Recovery

Today was a good reminder of the power of fun in a training program. My morning clients had pushed hard for two days. They typically have a cardio day, or recovery day built in on the third day. However, because of their schedules many of them could not work out on their normal 4th day but did not want to miss a training day in the week. I let them know up front that they would be on a light day, instead of staying with their normal workout for their 4th day. What they didn’t know, was how much fun they were going to have during their training session.

I knew I wanted to keep it light, but still mentally engaging so they would not be bored during their recovery workout. I turned to game play. Specifically, Spike Ball. Many of them had heard of it, one had played it, and were extremely excited when they saw the net apparatus. I had them engaged from the beginning. Now, if you have never played Spike Ball, it is a game that requires teamwork, movement in all planes of motion, and a great deal of kinetic differentiation. The game was perfect for a recovery day.

Side note: to keep the movement limited, to make sure my clients did not over exert themselves, I decreased the game boundaries to approximately a 200sqft space.

If you are a coach, I highly suggest you take part in the games. You can build a great deal of trust and respect with your players and teams when you are a participant. You also get to know your players on a different level, getting to understand their competitive nature and ability to be a teammate.
Here is what we accomplished in 40 minutes:

1. Slightly Elevated Heart Rate – Sustained for 40 minutes
2. Developed a good sweat
3. Change of direction in all planes
4. Rotation at every level and from different positions
5. Reaction Skills
6. Kinetic differentiation
7. Squatting
8. Lunging in multi-planes
9. Jumping
10. Teamwork
11. Competitive Drive
12. Goal Setting
13. FUN!

Recovery days do not have to be a drawn out 40 – 60-minute stretch, or just a decrease in load or intensity of their normal workouts. Adding game play (pay attention to the intensity of the game) is a great way to help your athletes stay mentally/physically sharp and positive during the long grueling seasons. Try it next time your athletes look like they need a break. The results will shock you.