Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Chess overtraining

Overtraining frequently occurs in chess players who are training for tournaments, and train beyond the brain's ability to adapt. They often train longer and harder so they can improve. But without adequate rest and recovery, these training regimens can backfire, and actually decrease performance.

Do you overtrain?
Chess improvement requires a balance between chess time and recovery time. Too much time with chess and/or too little recovery time may result in some or all of the following symptoms of overtraining.

* Feeling tired, drained, lack of energy
* Sudden drop in performance
* Insomnia
* Headaches
* Decrease in training capacity / intensity
* Moodiness and irritability
* Depression
* Loss of enthusiasm for chess
* Decreased appetite
* A compulsive need to train/play chess

While there are many proposed ways to objectively test for overtraining, the most accurate and sensitive measurements are psychological signs and symptoms, especially changes in a player's mental state. Decreased positive feelings for chess and increased negative feelings, such as depression, anger, fatigue, and irritability often appear after a few days of intensive overtraining.

What to do
Although there is a tendency, particularly in new club players, to feel that “more is better” in terms of training volume, this approach will quickly lead to overtraining. Scheduled rest days should be incorporated into all training programs to allow for adequate recovery.

To avoid burnout, chess students should have a balanced programme of study. Studying tactical problems two hours a day for ten months is more likely to lead to burnout than a more balanced study of the game that includes playing games, studying strategy, endgame, and the opening.

Ignoring personal physical health also leads to chess burnout. Be sure to eat a healthy, balanced diet, and exercise at least three times a week. Of course sleep is essential to proper brain function and recovery. It is during periods of sleep that we experience the most recovery from tough chess study, so make sure you get enough sleep each night while training (for most people this means eight hours).

Note this is partly tongue-in-cheek, but not totally, and most of it was taken from exercise sites discussion overtraining for athletes.


Blogger CMoB said...

* Feeling tired, drained, lack of energy; Yes.
* Sudden drop in performance; Not that i am aware of.
* Insomnia; Yes.
* Headaches; Yes.
* Decrease in training capacity / intensity; No.
* Moodiness and irritability; No.
* Depression; No.
* Loss of enthusiasm for chess; NO!
* Decreased appetite; No.
* A compulsive need to train/play chess; YES!

I guess i am overtraining :)

6/16/2009 11:08:00 PM  
Blogger CMoB said...

How about yourself?

6/17/2009 01:16:00 AM  
Blogger katar said...

I hope to see another installment of this series based on guidelines to deal with meth addiction.

6/17/2009 01:27:00 AM  
Blogger Chess? said...

funny, I cut and pasted the same section CMoB! I felt the same way tonight. So insted of hitting ICS I played a couple of game. I really enjoyed them.

6/17/2009 01:32:00 AM  
Blogger Md. Alimuzzaman said...

It is important to train, but to what extent - that is the question. Many of us are just non professionals in the chess circle, with sporadic tournaments participations and lots of other staffs to do beside chess. For me, training with a database to become familiar with the playing style of my probable opponents are one of the most crucial preparatory steps before any tournament. The rest, like openings, tactics or strategies: I am still a believer that the basic books are more helpful than these softwares and/or programmes. A good book, especially those tournaments books, like Zurich 1953 or San Luis 2005 are simply fantastic to get one going. It is less tiring too as it always gives you a kind of closeness to that event ... the anecdotes ... the passions, etc. Then comes the familiarization with systems. For that good books can be Kasparov's My Great Predecessors series and offcourse other books like Fischer's My 60 Memorable Games or My most memorable games by Boris Gelfand. One must understand that no matter how much training one does, its all about concentrating fully during the games. So much we rely upon our knowledge of the opening that we tend to forget to calculate the moves during our first 20 clock pushings. That is where most of the games at non professional level is being decided. So take your time during the first 20 moves, you should be fine. Do not stress yourself before, better you do that during your game.

6/17/2009 03:12:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

CMoB: I found myself on Monday actually procrastinating chess study. That, for me, is one of the first signs that I need to back off and take a break. If I want to procrastinate, that means I look at it as work rather than fun. So I took the day off Monday, and yesterday I decided to not study in the morning and evening, but only the evening. I used to study 10-15 minutes before work (for those that have done sports, 'double sessions').

Katar: :) About.com also cured my meth addiction. :) I think I have met people who are addicted to chess. Thankfully I think I'm not one of them.

Alimuzzaman: Thanks for the thoughts. I agree it is important to time your stress so it peaks during the tournament (and obviously stress should be optimized, not so high you can't focus).

6/17/2009 07:41:00 AM  
Blogger From the patzer said...

That is why i take a break of study in the weekends. Friday is clubday so if there is chess to be played i am there (if i am not scheduled to work on saterday). Saterday i relax, doing nothing is heaven. Sunday from 10-12h i give chess lessons to the youth of my chess club.

The months october to march my weekends are a bit more busy. Then its friday and saterday an official game, sunday lessons. Then i sometimes am tired, sometimes hate chess if the results aren't what they are supposed to be. Then i take chess of the schedule in the week otherwise i am sure a burnout will occure and i end up stopping with what i love to do namely chess.

So yes, chess is a hard mistress to me.

6/17/2009 05:09:00 PM  
Blogger Polly said...

As I was reading this, I was thinking about everything I've read in running, cycling and triathlon publications I've read. The whole idea of over training comes up a lot in sports.

In sports there are training periods and times to taper before a big event. Going out and running 10 miles 3 days before a marathon is not going to help you train for that particular race. It's going to make one tired and at higher risk of injury. That 10 mile run should have been done weeks before.

The chess equivalent would be learning a whole new opening system for 6 housr a day 3 days before playing in the World Open. All it's going to accomplish is to make the player confused about his openings, and will probably impact his confidence and stamina.

When I competed in traithlon at a high level, I would do around 5 to 8 races in a season. There were maybe two races in the season that I would consider A races. (The ones where results and time were my highest priority) The other races would be ratd as B and C. These races were treated more as training and fine tuning for the A races.

As chess players we may have our weekly club tournament and a few big events that we go to. The club events may be the ones where we play around with new openings, or take chances with moves that are risky. The big weekend event that we're aiming for is the one where we want to make sure that we're prepared in terms of our openings. We've done our tactics work, and we are ready mentally.

There has to be balance in how we work study and tournaments in without suffering burnout. I'm having trouble with that balance. I know I play way too much. It's showing in the quality of my games lately. I'm trying to cut back on playing so much fast chess, and try to replace that with some study time.

6/17/2009 11:15:00 PM  
Blogger CMoB said...

Edit: * A compulsive need to train/play chess; YES! Should actually read NO!. When posting the comment i tought for a second the word compulsive meant something else based on * Feeling tired, drained, lack of energy; Yes.

6/18/2009 12:28:00 AM  
Blogger BlunderProne said...

Jesus, I thought I was in 1953 listening to a public service announcement. Don't freak me out like that. Instead of refer madness, perhaps it should be Chess Madness! I redirect to this video for it's revelence: http://blunderprone.blogspot.com/2009/03/little-treat-for-my-readers.html

6/18/2009 09:11:00 PM  
Blogger Zweiblumen said...

I'm amused, but this is can be a real issue in chess as well. I don't know about anyone else, but my interest in chess, like the rest of my hobbies, waxes and wanes. When I'm in full on chess mode I try to force myself to read other stuff, leave myself wanting more chess, as it were, to avoid burning out. I'll never have long term improvement if I don't play for extended stretches.

My goal for the rest of this year is to get 20 more USCF rated slow games under my belt and to finally work my way through some of the game collections I have. Chernev's Most Instructive EVAR book is on tap right now....

6/19/2009 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger San Diego Chess Club said...

I recently played in the Southern California Chess Open in the U1600 section, my first non-club tournament, and although I am reasonably happy with my results (3.5 out of 6), I thought I over-trained and my performance was adversely affected. The truth is, as much as I love chess, the 3 day tournament setting was exhausting. Currently I'm preparing for the North American Open; however, this time I will take more time to rest before the tournament, and attend with a more, "this is just for fun attitude."

10/23/2009 05:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am getting headache after doing 2-3 combinations ...how to overcome it i can not even sit for 30 minutes ...please help me

8/06/2013 05:22:00 AM  

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