Development by Design

According to all Coach Education literature, planning is important (which is true of course).  A key part of planning is periodisation, that is, planning when you are going to train for certain aspects of performance. This can be physiological aspects, but also technical aspects, competitive aspects, you can even periodise when and how you use performance analysis (which is a post in itself).  While all good literature and lecturers suggest that periodisation needs to be flexible, the reality is that, if there is a competition at a certain point, the opportunity to be flexible is limited because there are things that need to be achieved by that point in time.

I constantly find myself hearing about 'Programs' which develop athletes.  Really good athletes involved in organised sports will be attached to many 'programs', sometimes in multiple sports at the same time.  This is fantastic.  And problematic.  There is the State program, the Club program, the School program the Elite Development program, the National program (am I missing any?).  Some programs train all year round and have long (long) term goals, some programs train for 3 or 4 months of the year and have specific short term goals, some programs are camps based.  (Should there be a minimum period of time something lasts before which you can't call it a 'program'?).  Anyway, the reality is that all programs have benefits to the development of athletes.  However, like with most things, the benefits vary depending on the competitive/training circumstances.  So, like most things, they need to be periodised.

What if we looked at the #1 priority as the player rather than the program (novel?), so the first program we looked at is the Player Program - and of course the Player Program lasts 365 days per year.  We would look at periodising what is best for the player, because we always want to put the development of a player first.  So rather than starting out determining the needs of the team/program we would determine the needs of the player.

How would our periodised plan look now?  Rather than saying, we need to do these 6 things in 4 months before the competition and this is how/when we are going to do them, we would be saying, we need to do these 6 things, this is the order we need to do them, and once we have mastered each of them we will move on.  Does this mean the 6 things won't get covered in time for the competition?  Absolutely.  But what is the point of periodising a logical skill progression and moving on before the initial components are mastered?  What is the point, from the Player Program perspective, of moving on from something that hasn't yet been learned?  Is this really progression?

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