Before a college athlete goes on winter or spring break, it's common for performance coaches to jack up training volume before they leave (some coaches will even admit to over-training their athletes prior to a long break). As crazy as it sounds, this practice may be a logical one.
If you’re over trained, your nervous system is shot and serum testosterone levels are that of an 85-year-old nursing home patient. Also, you're not sleeping very well and not even close to hitting the skill and lift numbers you know you’re capable of hitting. In this case, common sense says back off training and allow yourself to recover. So why not periodically build in times of the year to over-train if you know an athlete is going to go on a short-term break during the school year? Yes, performance coaches know to “get after it” a bit more before sending athletes away (overreaching), but they typically don’t build in enough training volume to ensure the athlete holds on to some of the adaptation during the break. This can lead to an athlete coming back unprepared for organized team activity because they’re detrained.
But how do you know an athlete has accumulated enough training volume to be classified as over-trained? The best way to determine if your athletes are close to over training is by tracking RPE (rate of perceived exertion) from session to session and prescribing a tonnage that is roughly 20% higher than the tonnage from the previous block. Mind you, this practice is best suited for the ADVANCED level College athletes that are not participating in organized team activity, prolonged high velocity movements and only focusing on General Physical Preparation.