Study Notes

PLANNING A TRAINING YEAR (PERIODISATION)

The term periodisation means to divide the training year into manageable phases and sub-phases which are smaller in nature. This technique makes it easier to plan for important times in the competition season and peak at the right time.

– Phases of competition

Pre – season

This is the physical preparation stage. Athletes will use the 6-12 weeks before competition to build up their strength, cardiorespiratory endurance and physicality in order to be physically prepared for the competition ahead.

The pre season phase can also be split into general fitness (conditioning) – that is building their aerobic and anaerobic capacity, strength and flexibility.

This is followed by a more sport specific phase that focuses on speed; power and energy systems based on the athletes needs. This phase is generally higher intensity and will adopt tactical and technical skill development.

Preseason training will generally be conducted at medium to high levels of intensity with the aim to improve all areas of fitness and to develop the body’s resilience to injury. If athletes do not take preseason training seriously, there is a likelihood that injuries can occur or poor performance will result.

In-season

During the competition season, it is important that the athlete competes consistently. This time is used to refine skill, tactics and mental preparation rather than develop fitness needs.

In terms of the fitness training, intensity is increased while the volume (load) is decreased. It is important that the athlete maintains stamina their stamina in this stage.

A focus on speed, strength, power, and agility is used as a continuation of the conditioning training that was completed in pre season.

A focus in this stage is specificity, meaning that athletes need to train to the specific needs at that time. Athletes will also need to consider tapering to ensure that they are able to peak at the right time of year.

Off season

This is the recovery time for an athlete and occurs before the pre season phase. It is the time for the athlete to recover physically and psychologically from the stress of the competition.

It is important that athletes maintain some sort of aerobic conditioning during this phase so that they do not completely lose all of their fitness.

Generally, athletes will reduce their training to a couple of sessions a week; change the training environment whilst maintaining strength and flexibility training.

– Subphases

There are three sub-phases of the training program. They are:

Macrocycle – These are the preseason, in season and offseason training phases. When using this to plan ahead, you should include all major competitions and events.

Mesocycle – Macrocycles can be broken down into 4-6 week phases known as mesocycles. Each mesocycle can have specific goals in place that the athlete and coach want to achieve.

Microcycle – Mesocycles are again broken into smaller, weekly blocks up to ten days, which are known as microcycles. This phase will endeavour to have individual training sessions identified with the aim to fine tune specific areas of need, whether it be skill or tactical work. Microcycles will generally provide more detail on the focus of the training session including duration and frequency.

Some issues that may arise from this type of planning is that injuries may occur and the need to re-evaluate the program, depending on whether you are working with a team or individual, you will need to tailor the program as best as possible to cater for all athletes in terms of intensity.

– Peaking

An athlete is not expected to peak all year round. Peaking is the ability to be at your absolute best condition at a specific time for a competition that you have decided on.

When an athlete continues to train at a high intensity they develop the risk of overtraining and therefore burning out.

An individual athlete may need to design their program so that they peak primarily for one/two events throughout the year (athletics), or they may need to peak several times a year due to many competitions that they are competing in (tennis).

Athletes in team sports will look to continually improve week to week, hoping that they are able to peak in the finals.

In the weeks leading up to a major competition, training intensity and levels may be increased until a week or two prior to the competition where the athlete will slowly back off (tapering) in the amount of sessions that are completed.

However, the intensity will remain. If the athlete has timed their training to peak at the right time, they will show signs of excellent health, they will be motivated, confident and ready to perform.

– Tapering

Tapering is the gradual reduction of training prior to competing in a major event.

This process allows the body to recover physically and mentally from the stress of the training demands and allows muscle tissue to rebuild and replace energy stores. The athlete will seem or become ‘fresher’ and not seem fatigued.

Every athlete may be different in terms of how long they need to taper for.

Depending on the event and the athlete, it could be a couple of days to allow muscle fibres to relax and recover for a sprinter to a couple of weeks for an athlete who is more of an endurance based athlete.

If the athlete does not allow enough time to taper, they will look tired and underperform. If they allow too long, the athlete could see the effects of detraining kick in.

– Sport Specific Subphases

These subphases allow the coach to target specific areas in their athletes training that they may need to develop further.

E.G. – strength, endurance, power, speed and agility. Each of these areas may take up their own subphase.

Coaches should look to incorporate these areas into their training sessions by mixing skill based activities with these areas of need.

E.G. – completing skill development whilst under fatigue to get the athlete used to making decisions when tired.

Full Written Notes

Critical Question 2 – What are the Planning Considerations for Improving Performance?

PLANNING A TRAINING YEAR (PERIODISATION)

The term periodisation is used to describe the process of dividing the training year into manageable phases and sub-phases, which are smaller in nature. This technique makes it easier to plan for important events in the competition season and ensure that athletes peak at the right time.

Phases of competition

Pre-season
This is the physical preparation stage. Athletes use the 6-12 weeks before competition to build up their strength, cardiorespiratory endurance and physicality in order to be prepared to compete.

The pre-season phase can also be split into smaller stages. General fitness, or conditioning, builds the aerobic and anaerobic capacity, strength and flexibility of athletes. This is followed by a sport orientated phase that focuses on speed; power and energy systems, which is tailored to the specific needs of the athlete. This second stage is generally higher intensity and incorporates tactical and technical skill development.

Pre-season training is generally performed at medium to high levels of intensity, with the aim of improving all areas of fitness and developing the body’s resilience to injury.

If athletes do not take pre-season training seriously, there is a high risk injury or poor performance in competition.

In-season
During the event season, it is important that athletes compete and train consistently. This time is used to refine skills, tactics and mental preparation, rather than to develop fitness needs.

In terms of the fitness training, intensity is increased while the volume (or load) is decreased. It is important that the athlete maintains their stamina in this stage. A focus on speed, strength, power, and agility is used as a continuation of the conditioning training that was completed in pre-season.

A key element of this stage is specificity; athletes need to adapt training to their specific needs at that time. They also need to consider tapering to ensure that they peak at the right time of year.

Off-season
This is the recovery time for an athlete and occurs between the in-season and pre-season phases. It is optimum time for athletes to recover physically and psychologically from the stress of the competition.

It is important that athletes maintain some sort of aerobic conditioning during this phase so that their general fitness and strength do not deteriorate. Typically, athletes reduce their training load to a couple of sessions per week, whilst also maintaining strength and flexibility work.

Subphases

There are three subphases of the training program. They are:

  1. Macrocycle – These are the pre-season, in-season and off-season training phases. When using this to plan ahead, you should consider all major competitions and events.
  2. Mesocycle – Macrocycles can be broken down into 4-6 week phases known as mesocycles. Each mesocycle can have specific objectives in place for the athlete and coach to achieve.
  3. Microcycle – Mesocycles are again broken into smaller, weekly blocks up to ten days, which are known as microcycles. This phase should target individual training sessions with the aim of refining specific skills, tactics or athletic needs. Microcycles will generally offer more detail on the focus of the training session, including the duration and frequency of exercises.

Some issues which may arise from this type of planning are the occurrence of injuries and the need to re-evaluate the program. Depending on whether you are working with a team or individual, you will need to tailor the program to cater for all athletes in terms of intensity and ensure optimal results.

Peaking

An athlete is not expected to peak all year round. Peaking describes the absolute best condition for an athlete to be in and occurrence should correlate with competitions and events.

An individual athlete may need to design their program so that they peak primarily for one/two events throughout the year (i.e. athletics), or they may need to peak several times a year due to many competitions that they are competing in (i.e. tennis).

Athletes who compete in team sports will look to continually improve week to week, with the aim that they will peak condition for the finals.  In the lead up to a major competition, training intensity and levels may be increased until a week or two prior to the competition, when the athlete will slowly back off, or taper, the amount of sessions they complete. However, the intensity will remain high. If the athlete has timed their training to peak at the right time, they will demonstrate signs of excellent health, motivation, confidence and will be psychically and mentally ready to perform.

Athletes must proceed with care during this phase and follow the expert direction of their plan and coach. High intensity training over an extended period of time increases the risk of overtraining and may lead to burning out.

Tapering

Tapering is the gradual reduction of training prior to competing in a major event. This process allows the body to recover physically and mentally from the stress of the training demands. It also gives the body time to rebuild muscle tissue and renew energy stores.

During this stage the athlete should feel ‘fresher’ and not fatigued.

Depending on the specific event and the individual athlete there will be different needs and requirements in regards to how long they need to taper for. A sprinter may only need a couple of days; enough to allow their muscle fibres time to relax and However, an endurance athlete will probably require a tapering period of at least a couple of weeks.

A careful balance is needed to achieve optimal benefits from tapering. If the athlete does not allow enough time to taper, they will feel tired and will most likely underperform. If they decrease training for too long, the athlete could see effects of de-training kick in.

Sport Specific Sub-phases           

These sub-phases allow the coach to target specific areas for training that need to further development, for example, strength, endurance, power, speed and agility. Each of these areas may comprise of an individual sub-phase.

Coaches should look to incorporate these sub-phases into training sessions by mixing skill based activities with methods which will build these particular skills and abilities. An example would be arranging training for a time when the athlete in fatigued, to improve their ability to make decisions when tired.