Period Drama - Tis the (pre-)season

It seems that in the last few years the idea of periodization has fallen into the nerdier shadows of the training world. It's not so much that there are people criticising it per se but there are so many people entering fitness or returning to fitness training who either had no exposure to the concept previously or who are turned on to the idea of beating the piss out of themselves with every workout.

Cards on the table, the classic mode of teaching periodization is a turn-off for me. It's pretty turgid and a lot of it seemed to revolve around bodybuilding type models. And that's fine, if you're a bodybuilder but in my world mates do not let mates wear budgie-smugglers, so the idea of getting towards the point where you stand on stage looking like a condom packed to the gunwales with walnuts and pose in your briefs does not do much for me!

That and the idea of completely random training meant that I've had some fun along the way. But for sports performance we simply know what, when and the scale of our challenges. We are striving to be better within defined parameters.

  1. You cannot maintain 100% readiness 100% of the time. Granted, it's no bad thing to have a higher base or average level but you need to factor rest in if you are to grow.
  2. As much as it pains me to concede the point, mastery requires focus and specialization. If you want to be a sportsman you owe it to yourself to think about what you're doing and what you want. A good all-rounder will be healthy but a good part of competitive sport is not about being healthy
  3. Even if you want to be an all-rounder, you will need to develop skills. The more you try to do at once, the more competitive inhibition you risk encouraging in your mind and your muscles. Deliberate practice, establish a base in each of your desired component parts individually, then start to blend.
  4. There's only ever 24 hours in a day
So at this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere many of our ball players are thinking in terms of off-season, and, terrifyingly soon after, the march towards pre-season... which may look a little something like this

Rest and Regeneration - trying to avoid (and probably failing) putting on a stone or more of "off-season conditioning" as the barbecue and booze belly was once described to me!

Base - GPP central! Refreshing and renewing your movement mechanic standards. Waking up your body to agility. Intervals and recovery. Quality of practice as a foundation. Strength base and myofibrillar hypertrophy (increase in size and contractile strength of muscle fibres as opposed to fluid in the muscles - functional size).

Pre-season - you beauty! How this shapes up will depend on amount of contact time and what work, if any, has gone in during the off-season. Too often the early part of pre-season involves trying to get players up to where they needed to be at the start! It happens, it's doable but it needs recognising and a re-assessment of goals and milestones. It takes as long as it takes to get fit. Just because you only have eight weeks to get there does not mean that it can happen in that time.

As ever, where the heck are you going with this Ben?

Even if you really dig the random workout plans, remember that you can and perhaps need to add a bias to it. Try grouping your strength emphasis sessions together, or your power or anaerobic sessions. Then randomize your selection from within that pool. And then move on.

  1. Apply some thought and some general direction to your training
  2. You can't go 1000mph all of the time. Development takes time but paying attention makes it more likely that you'll get a response when you put you foot down.
  3. If you have aspirations for your season, don't turn up to pre-season cold!


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