“Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” – Vince Lombardi
Whether you’re practicing a sport-specific skill or performing speed and agility drills, fatigue will adversely affect your performance. Adequate rest and recovery are necessary to perform at 100% effort (or close to it) and with optimal technique. My friend and colleague, Megan Osysko, recently addressed this issue in her blog post, The Importance of Exercise Rest and Recovery.
In short, optimal performance requires adequate rest.
“Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong.” – Unknown
Success results from the ability to repeat maximum effort many times. In order to perform with maximum effort and technically correct form and mechanics, you must allow adequate rest intervals between repetitions and/or sets. As a general rule, there should be a correlation between the intensity level of the activity and the associated rest interval, with higher intensity exercises and drills followed by longer rest intervals.
I’ve seen drills at basketball practices where players run high-intensity sprints or shuttles followed by free-throw shooting, to simulate game conditions, when they must be able to make foul shots when fatigued late in games. While there is merit to these drills, players must master the skill — in this case, free-throw shooting — and develop appropriate muscle-memory before progressing to game-like situations. Same goes for any other sport-specific skill.
Please note that this strategy does not apply to conditioning, which is another activity, altogether. If you are performing high-intensity exercises and drills without allowing adequate rest between repetitions and sets, you are not doing skill development or speed and agility training. There’s nothing wrong with conditioning, as long as conditioning is your goal.
Remember, fatigue prevents skill development. Learn the skill. Practice the skill with technically correct form and mechanics. Develop the appropriate muscle-memory. Master the skill. Once you’ve accomplished this, then it’s time to progress to game-like simulations and situations.
Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!