Putting Players in Buckets

Putting players in buckets is a phrase I’m stealing from Seattle Sounders Fitness coach?Dave Tenney.?He used it in the context of trying to categorize players according to physical, physiological and performance indicators to better individualize training plans. Many intelligent team sport fitness coaches do this as it’s better than a one program for all approach and more pragmatic and realistic to implement than attempting to make completely individualized training plans for all 18-30 guys on there team. And to the latter point, the reality is that players tend to cluster. And if you can put them ‘in buckets’ you realize that those in the same bucket tend to be more similar than different. This approach allows the fitness coach to develop one training template for each ‘bucket’ and then tweak when necessary for the individual player.

So how do you decide on what defines each bucket and what parameters are used to put a player in to a particular bucket? This is where things seemingly get tricky but experience indicates that despite there being endless possibilities for buckets, most of them are redundant or overlapping. The safest bets are start with the extremes (enduring / highly aerobic / work horses vs. super fast / highly anaerobic alactic / low work capacity) and then fill in those who clearly do not fit in to either extreme.

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Mike Young

Director of Performance at Athletic Lab
Mike is the Head Fitness Coach for the North Carolina Courage and North Carolina FC. He is also the owner and Director of Performance at Athletic Lab sports performance training center. He previously served as the fitness coach for the Vancouver Whitecaps and Carolina Railhawks. He has a PhD in Biomechanics, an MS in Coaching Science, and a BSS in Exercise Physiology and has coached Olympic and professional athletes in Skeleton, Track & Field, MLS and NASL Soccer, PGA Golf, NFL Football, MLB Baseball and Olympic Weightlifting. He has lectured around the world and authored 2 books and dozens of research and coaching articles.