Training for sport participation begins months before the season. Preparation for fall sports should begin in the late spring or early summer, while preparations for spring sports should begin in late summer or early fall. Proper periodization helps to prevent over-training and optimize performance by regulating the training cycle. A properly constructed cycle should allow the athlete to peak during the competitive season.
A training cycle consists of three phases. The first is shock and usually lasts for one to two weeks at the beginning of training. It is characterized by soreness, stiffness, and diminished performance. The second or resistance phase is the purpose of training. During this phase the body adapts to the new stimulus creating an increase in performance. The final phase is termed maladaptation, which is the result of over-training. The athlete feels stale, over worked, and performance begins to decline. This phase is the reason that periodization was instituted. The competitive athlete needs to avoid the pitfalls of over-training.
With periodization, the training period is broken down in to cycles. The full training cycle is called a macrocycle - this can last for a period of several months. The macrocycle is comprised of mesocycles. The mesocycle is composed of microcycles, or one week intervals in the training schedule.
The mesocycle has distinct periods: a preparatory period, a competition period, and transitional periods within or between the two previous periods. The duration of the periods should be goal dictated and relative to the amount of time between competition phases.
One must remember to have a transition phase at the end of the competition season that should last approximately four weeks. This period begins with active rest and little formal training. Normal recreational activities should be encouraged to allow the athlete to recover from the stresses of the competition season.
The preparatory period comes next. Preparation is better know as off-season training. During this period the major emphasis is on conditioning, with limited sport-specific skill practices and game strategy sessions. Conditioning activities should be relatively low in intensity and high volume; long slow distance running and swimming; low-intensity plyometrics; and high-repetition weight training done with light to moderate resistance. These activities progress with weekly microcycles that gradually add intensity while lowering volume.
Between the preparatory and competition periods, another transition period may be appropriate. This period often includes slightly more intense training and should be shorter than the transition period between the end of the season and preparatory period.
The competition period includes the late preseason and the season itself in most high school sports. It begins with a shift to very high intensity work with low volumes. Practice and skill technique and and game strategy increase in large proportion to conditioning work. The goal during this period is for the athlete to be as his/her highest level of performance and fitness.
The results of competition should substantiate the fact that the athlete has a higher level of fitness and conditioning that the previous competition phase. The length of the next cycles should then be adjusted to reflect the higher level of fitness to make the next competition phase even more productive. Keep in mind that these changes are goal dependent - the athlete must strive to reach the goals that are set and adjust the goals as they are attained or become unattainable.
©2000 - 2009 David Edell
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Last Update for AthleticAdvisor.com: 10/24/2009 12:09:35 AM