So, the last race of the year is under our belts – there’s nothing more on the horizon and motivation is starting to waver! It’s been a tough year.
For athletes we coach we always recommend a 2-4 week off season period to decompress after a year of training from both a physical and psychological standpoint. The length of this break will largely depend on your own circumstances but some time off is always advised no matter what the level. This is a time for relaxation, getting equipment sorted and addressing the other aspects of life that were neglected throughout the season. It is also a great time for self – reflection, the end of season review is a great exercise in this!
We’ve discussed conducting a mid-season review before (which is a handy thing to reflect on for your end of season review) you can read all about that here.
How does this self-reflection take shape?
How you form your end of season review is largely dependent on how you personally like to learn, how you like to present information as a coach/athlete or from a coaching perspective what is most accessible for the athletes you work with.
For me, personally, I use written text in a PDF document followed by a phone/ video call to debrief this with the athlete. Likewise, you could use an in-depth call while taking some notes, recording the call, a handwritten diary, or a host of other ways. If you are a self-coached athlete the same information stands with the caveat that I would advise you to get an external party to mull things over with – like a teammate, coach, parent, partner etc.
When should you do this?
Shortly after your last race of the year and over your off-season you should do your end of season review – why? Because the information will be present in your head and you will not put it on the long finger. It also allows you to completely switch off over the remainder of your off-season. Once it is formed you can revisit it when you get back training with a fresh mindset and see what can be actioned or where you were perhaps too hard on yourself. This can form the basis of goal setting for next year!!
What should you include?
While this is highly individual to each athlete there are some common areas we include in every end of season review we do here at Premier Endurance. Personally, I’d recommend you break it up into the four facets of performance: Physical, Technical, Tactical, Psychological.
So, what do we include in our reviews?
1 General Overview and Subjective Review of Year
Give some general background of the year. Were there any major points that need to be highlighted, for example a major examination, medical issues, injuries, and a host of other individualized problems that athletes face each year. Set the scene for the year to give some context. Here it’s also worth while looking at the less tangible aspects of performance such as tactical progression, technical progression and your psychological progression.
Go into how you the coach/athlete felt the year went – try not to focus solely on the negatives. I aim to deliver this part of the review using the good, better, how feedback approach. What we did well, what we can do better and how we do that.
2 Goal Setting
Simply put, what were our goals and did we achieve them? Did we do well in adjusting our goals for any complications that arose with the season e.g. a worldwide pandemic!!
Did we tick off our process goals even if the outcome wasn’t exactly what we wanted?
What conditions contributed to these goals being completed (or not)?
3 Physical Progression
Generally, we look at power output progression here. This comes with the slight caveat that power meters are generally only accurate to themselves, so, while we will compare year on year be mindful that if you changed power meters in the interim this data may be misleading. We will generally look at power duration curves compared to last year/ season, testing progression, overall volume and any monitoring we completed over the year. You can see basic examples of how we present this data below.
Table 1: Basic Training Load Data
|Time (Bike) (HRs)||491||578|
|Training Stress Score (TSS)||25,966||27,051|
Table 2: Critical Power Testing Over a Season
We will also look at any strength and conditioning work or goals, injury prevent methods and generally subjective feelings such as periods of the year where you felt worst/best and why.
We will also have a look at training compliance and consistency over the year as a whole, this will account for injuries, illness, motivation loss and planned breaks. The “setting of the scene” we did at the start is important for this one!
4 Coach-Athlete Relationship
The coach athlete relationship is something we’ve discussed in depth in a previous post.
We use the 11-item coach athlete relationship questionnaire developed by Jowett & colleagues1,2 more information on which can be viewed in the above post. Through the athlete and the coach filling out this questionnaire (blinded to each other’s answers) we can see an honest appraisal of some integral elements of the relationship.
This area may seem nit-picky but we’re aware from the vast majority of coaching research that a strong coach athlete relationship is integral to your performance and achieving goals – more so then the training plan to a certain extent, hence the extra emphasis put on it here.
5 Training Directions for Winter & Next Year
Finally, we pull all the above information together to make informed discussions on training directions for winter and next year. This represents a blend of the apparent areas for physical progression, technical and tactical progression, and psychological progression along with the athletes own respective goals and circumstances.
I hope you enjoyed this brief insight into debriefing the end of a season. No matter what your level I think this is such a crucial part of performance and sets you up in good stead for the winter ahead.
1Jowett, S., & Meek, G. A. (2000). The coach-athlete relationship in married couples: An exploratory content analysis. The Sport Psychologist, 14(2), 157-175.
2Jowett, S., & Ntoumanis, N. (2004). The coach–athlete relationship questionnaire (CART‐Q): Development and initial validation. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports, 14(4), 245-257.