As coaches we put together our training plans to aid the development of the athlete to achieve a new, higher level of performance. In endurance sport, this task is usually undertaken after creating a plan based on a year round cycle, coaches dealing with strength or speed disciplines may well use shorter cycles.
The careful assessment and monitoring athletes is integral throughout the entire training process, and this methodical approach will allow the coach to make informed decisions in regard to the effects and consequences of their training and planning decisions. The principle of individualisation proposes that athletes adapt differently to training doses, and the attainment of consistent high performance requires effective training that is carefully planned and monitored.
When developing a plan for an athlete, it is essential that the preparatory phase be maintained for an appropriate length of time to enable the athlete to reach a consistency of training load to achieve a desired result. A crucial element for the coach is to engage the athlete with ownership for their training and performance, reinforcing the developed plan, so they understand that we are not necessarily aiming for immediate success in low prioritised competition, but at planned and effective preparation for the events that have been identified as most important. The provides the coach with the ability to create a system for year round preparation directed at both improving holistic performance, as well as achieving peak performance for major events or competitions.
Platonov (2) explored the option to manage an athletes training year via the use of four (4) to seven (7) cycles, reinforcing the fundamental importance for the coach to find a balance between independence (individuality) of each macrocyle, which end with a high prioritised event, and the macrocycle’s position within the system of year round preparation, aiming to achieve the highest success at identified points within a given year.
The traditional model of periodisation typically defines the duration of a macrocycle as year or six (6) months, with a mesocycle lasting a month (four week block) and a microcycle as a week. However, there is a good deal of variation applied to this traditional model, but no matter whether you follow a traditional structure to the planning process or one more akin to Planotov, the successive progression of each macro cycle must be based on the training and adaption incurred from the previous macrocycle, and the modern coach needs to be meticulous in their initial preparation and planning. This includes clearly defining their training cycles in terms of duration, general structure, load dynamics, interdependence of the fundamental measures and special preparation.
The most important specific rules, according to Platonov (2), in regards to athletic preparation are:
• Orientation towards major achievements.
• Advanced Specialisation.
• Compatibility of general (fundamental) and special preparation.
• Continuity of the training process.
• Balance between accumulating and the tendency to maximise loads.
• Variability of training loads.
• Cyclicity of the preparation process.
• Compatibility and interdependence of the structure of sport events and the preparation process.
Now I want you to go and have a critical look at your program, how does your current micro block of training fit within your meso and macro cycle, and your overarching annual plan. Does the plan fit with Platonov’s rules? What are the patterns you can see over the last six (6) months of training? Are you improving? Are you stagnating or plateauing? Have you been going through the motions, without real purpose? If so, it is about time you communicate with your coach. Let them know what you are thinking, how you are feeling, because coaching is all about dealing with the individual, and without specific and relevant feedback the coach is unable to provide you with the level of individualisation that he probably desires.
In our next article we are going to begin to explore some of the different models of periodisation, starting with the traditional linear model of periodisation.
1. Bompa TO, Haff GG. Periodization, Theory and Methodoly of Training: Human Kinetics. 2009
2. Platonov VN. Teoría General del Entrenamiento Deportivo Olímpico: Paidotribo. 2001.
3. Selye, H. Stress and the general adaptation syndrome. British medical journal1, 1383-1392 (1950).
4. Siff MC. Supertraining (5 ed.). Denver USA: Supertraining institute. 2004.