Is Periodization Dead?

This was one of the questions asked at a presentation I did to Athletics and swim Coaches at University of Queensland. It is an important question, certainly not one to be taken lightly. Periodization as it has been commonly taught by Bompa et. al. is dead! That neat defined world of general preparation, special preparation, competition and transition does not exist any more. Contemporary reality is that of an extended competitive season without well defined long periods of general preparation. We must recognize that planning is still the cornerstone of all training, but we must not be bound by antiquated concepts that are derived from former eastern bloc nations that had strict control of their competitive schedule and total control of the athletes lives. Traditional periodization also fails to address adequately the planning and preparation for team sports. We build upon principles of adaptation and current research to build plans that are realistic in our cultural and competitive milieu. Recognize that thorough and complete planning is a must, do not misinterpret what I am saying. We must be careful that we are not sheep walking and blindly following methodology that is outdated. There is a new reality that we must prepare for.


At 6/22/07, 11:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Thrown Free" by Wolfgang Schmidt.

How would Bompa periodize a training program for an athlete who competes year round or does not have an off season? Anyone..?


At 6/22/07, 12:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While there may not be a true "offseason", there are still usually only 1-2 short periods of the year an athlete wants and needs to be at their peak.

Mark Day

At 6/22/07, 1:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of the 1 or 2 short periods of the year WHEN should the athlete needs or wants to be at their peak?

If you were golfer, when do you want to peak?

If you were tennis player, when do you want to peak?

If you were a soccer player, when do you want to peak?


At 6/22/07, 11:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would you be able to elaborate on your mention of "Thrown Free". I have not had to the chance to read it ... yet. Thanks.

At 6/23/07, 9:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thrown Free...an Olympic discus thrower...talked of his flight to the western world and training from the Eastern Bloc. He was put under surveillance for shaking hands with Mac Wilkins in 76' Olympics . He was condemned to prison when the secret police thought he was planning to defect, but it's was called "re-education camp". There he trained and coached the youth group. He talked about the cycle of training...peaking. The Eastern Bloc of training...the cycle...when to compete. If he was positive for steroids...then he was "injured"...then he couldn't compete.

Youth development...talent identification...long term athletic development.

A good quick read.

At 6/23/07, 10:46 AM, Blogger Dennis said...

I have been pondering on how to periodize (in the classical sense) my basketball team for quite some time now. We basically play year round!
What I have recently done is periodize in a "non-linear" fashion. I first came accross this term from a track coach friend of mine.
What I basically do now is cover endurance, speed, strength, power, etc. all within a shorter cycle. Often 1 or 2 week cycles. While still seeing the bigger picture.
When do you want a basketball team to peak? In the finals? How do they win games to get to the finals if they are not in shape to win games early in the season?
Any thoughts?

At 6/23/07, 11:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WHAT!!! Play year round is absurd. No one plays year round. Two common reactions I get from young strength coaches.

Here is an example. A basketball team that plays year round. No off season in a sense.

So how does the theory of periodization applies, preseason, inseason, active rest, off season, transition, works?

Thanks Dennis

At 6/23/07, 11:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I realize that I it's impossible to "periodize" to the extent the eastern europeans did, but Bompa defined Periodization as "a process of structuring training into phases". Isn't that still the basic idea?!

Vladimir Zatsiorsky gave an insightful presentation about periodization at a NSCA conference a few years back where he specifically addressed the question of training for sports that involve long seasons.

On an interesting side note, some of the US weightlifting coaches are dropping the "old" way of periodizing with their three cycles of train hard two weeks, back off, and then max. Now it seems, they're going through a general prep cycle followed directly by a competition cycle (ie they dropped the pre-season cycle). Maybe they've been reading Ironmaven's blog along with yours Vern :)

At 6/24/07, 7:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I understand your point but is there not 1-2 dates on the calendar more important than all the others? Those dates can be the State Tournament or Nat'l AAU Tournament or a particular golf tournament. Everything else should be a part of the journey/process preparing for the biggest stages. In my opinion if you really want to be the best you can be there may be some times you will have to settle with some less perfect results along the way to be able to peak at the time most important to you. I agree it is not always an easy sell but while many play year around there are times when player development should be the primary focus and certain dates on the calendar when you go out and leave nothing on the table to be questioned.

Mark Day

Mark Day

At 6/25/07, 7:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Is 1 or 2 dates on the calendar of the season is bigger than others?

Let's say you are Tiger Woods. What is more important to you? The US Open...The Masters..The British Opens...PGA Champhionship.

What's more important to you as a high school basketball player? The AAU tournament or states championship. As a highschool coach, what's more important to you, AAU tournament or states tournament?

Someone said that Lance Armstrong was #1 in the world in cycling. Lance Armstrong was not ranked in the top 40 because he does not race in the traditional circuit. He raced one race...Tour de France. Yes...this was one important date for him...and periodize seems to work for him.



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