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planning your training schedule in a way where you can put enough stress on your body to bring about adaptations / improvements while also ensuring that you are fresh and ready to perform at peak performance when it counts

Periodization in Youth Sports

Okay, so in a previous post, I discussed the issue of Over-training & Under-training and how there is an important balance to strive to maintain to ensure the efficiency of your continued development towards achieving your goals.

In this post I want to dive a bit deeper into the concept of Periodization which is most relevant to the driven athlete who wants to train as much as they possibly can, and who might be suffering somewhat from a decrease or plateau in performance as a result.

The concept of Periodization is all about planning your training schedule in a way where you can put enough stress on your body to bring about adaptations / improvements while also ensuring that you are fresh and ready to perform at peak performance when it counts i.e. Your weekly competition game or the National tournament at the end of the season.

The key thing to realise is as you go about training hard and pushing your body to its limits both on-court and in the weight room, you are putting stress on your muscles and nervous system. To counteract this stress the body will do the amazing thing and bring about adaptations such as increasing muscle mass, improving muscle connectivity with the brain (motor neuron recruitment), or increasing aerobic capacity(efficiency of oxygen uptake). This process occurs during the time that your body is RESTING.

What happens is that when athletes push hard, stress their bodies and then they don’t give their body the time it needs to complete this adaptation process, they end up with fatigued muscles, a fatigued nervous system, and poor results to show for it. So let’s look at the cycles that athletes should be tracking.

Weekly ScheduleMicrocycle

This is managing your week to week training schedule, usually consisting of a varied number of high intensity trainings tapering off to moderate-lower intensity trainings as the athlete approaches the pinnacle event of the week: Their Friday / Saturday competition game.

Each week must include at least 1 scheduled rest day, to allow for adaptations to occur.

Training BlockMesocycle

This is usually a block of 4-8weeks of progressive loading in training ramping up to a particular level, followed by a deload week in which trainings are scaled back to allow the nervous system to recover and to fully rest the body allowing adaptations to come about.

Yearly PlanMacrocycle

This is looking at the season as a whole and how the athlete will train at different stages i.e. Pre-season, In-season, Off-season.

For example with regards to skill work, Off-season you would look to make significant improvements in multiple areas, trying new things and going through adjustment phases to evolve aspects of your game.

Pre-season you would be focused on conditioning and narrowing in on skills that you would be required to perform on your team that season (maybe you are changing roles due to an evolution in the off-season?).

Then in season it is about getting reps and maintaining rhythm with the skills that you are executing on a week to week basis with some outside the box things here and there to improve small details that you need to as you go through the season.

As a youth athlete, you don’t need something too stringent – just some awareness about how much you are loading yourself, planning your schedule so you can get the most out of your training and can perform well when you need to.

Catch you next time! - Coach Zac