Periodisation: Training Planning

John Shepherd (2009)

1960’s Leonid Matveyev (Russia), Tudor Bompa (formerly Romania).

Training year divided into phases – ‘macro’, ‘meso’ and ‘micro’ cycles. (Roughly months, weeks and days.) Within each cycle the key training variables of volume, intensity and specificity are manipulated to create the desired training effects. Racket sports do not lend themselves as readily to periodisation as track and field sports for two key reasons.

  • The performance outcomes in training and competition are not as easily measured. For example in track events the enhancement of CV ability can be monitored by heart rate control.
  • Racket sports have a relatively high skill component and are much more dependent on other players and the tactics of the opposition.

It is much more difficult to develop a highly quantifiable periodisation programme for the more ‘qualitative sports’, with their much greater and diverse skill requirements and influencing variables.

Double periodisation (and even triple programmes) are used from time to time, but for those sports which allow it should not be practiced year in and year out. Every third or fourth year the athlete should return to the single periodisation plan.

In the case of the ‘qualitative sports’ one must bear in mind that not only will there be conditioning (weights, anaerobic/aerobic activity) in a quantifiable way, but also the need to spend much time on technique and skill development as well as the mental aspects. It is of little use being supremely fit if this is developed at the expense of skill. Periodisation must never allow the development of physical condition to outpace technical requirements.

‘Skill strength’ periodisation models can also be developed, emphasising the development of sport skill at the beginning of the training year and throughout, before more ‘power’ is added in subsequent training cycles.

In table tennis an important part of the ‘volume’ will be time spent on the table.

Undulating periodisation is another model – this combines much shorter training phases with differing modes of exercises and exercise intensities (one day more speed and power, the next on endurance and the next on skill and agility). With this type of periodisation the coach has to fully understand the needs of the particular individual and be able to apply a repertoire of workouts and exercises that can be juggled to maintain players in as near to peak condition as possible.

Until relatively recently the periodisation of mental performance received scant attention. Now sports performers are increasingly working on matching physical and technical training with their mental training. It makes sense that different mental strategies should be employed during different training phases to maximise performance and to bolster competitive readiness.