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Modeling Annual Athlete Training Plans

Researchers have been developing models of how to train athletes.
  • Exactly who you listen to and why you choose that individual directly impacts decisions?
  • Are there Specific strategies for getting optimal results with different age groups (6-18)?
  • What is the Truth about Acceleration vs Deceleration vs Change of Direction (Agility) techniques?
  • What does a training program concentrate on to see consistent improvement?
  • How do the most effective coaches structure the skill development of their athletes?
  • Is it possible to create a training program that develops their abilities without long term negative impacts after competing?

      The goal of an annual plan is to direct and guide an athlete's training throughout a year of training. The basis of such a plan is constructed on the concept of periodization and training principles specific to individual sports. The training objective is for an athlete to reach a high level of performance (peak performance) by adhering to a methodical training schedule designed to develop skills, biomotor abilities, mental quickness/adgility, emotional stability, and psychological traits associated with dealing with the stressful environment of competing.

      There are some simple key essentials that have been used by elite coaches for decades and studies have codified these observations in a mathematical modeling of the training process.

      There are 3 basic scenarios that can arise from decisions concerning increasing a training load:

  • 1. Each individual athlete has an optimal ‘chronic training load’ based on their training base and physical limitations, not their aspirations.
Coaches must take into consideration there is a finite limit to the training load that an athlete can absorb at any single point in their training season. What a athlete can absorb over a long training period is significantly less than what the athlete can endure over a short term period. Long term monitoring ot their training workload provides the best assessment of what a optimal training load.

This optimal load will also change over the years as the athlete's base improves. The best approach is to stick to an existing given training load over 6-8 weeks until there is evidence to increase the work load.
  • 2. Individual athlete have an optimal ‘ramp rate’ to increase training load towards to their optimal level. Exceeding this rate results in failed adaptation (overtraining)!
    • There is a tendency for an athlete to ramp up the volume/intensity too quickly at the start of the season. This causes their body to rapidly exhaust their energy reserves and the body is unable to compensate. The result of this depletion can only be reversed by taking time off to recover.
    • Conversely, if the increase of training volume/intensity at the beginning of the season is not challenging, the athlete does not fully benefit from the work load  early in the training season. This causes the athlete to a "peak" that is not sustainable until the final competitive event of the season.
    • The optimal load will result in the athlete arriving at their maximal fitness shortly before their first competition while still allowing enough time to taper off and repeat the process prior to the final competition of the season.
      The only way to reduce the risk of an injury that would cancel the fitness accrued is to plan very moderate volume jumps from month to month until you have a proven baseline ramp rate that you have sustained over the course of a season.
  • How can an optimal work load be determined for the season? Athletes who constantly feel tired have already exceeded their limitations.
The longer the competitive season, the greater the risk of over training. If performance begins to decline as the season progresses, it is time to take a short break. The optimal length of this break depends on the skill base of the athlete and the length of the period of over training. A good general rule to take at least the same amount of time off as the over training.

Determine the Start of the Training Season
      The start of the training year will depend upon the individual sport's circumstances and the skill level of the athlete. For example, an outdoor sport such as golf starts in the spring and continues through to the early fall in cold winter climates. The months corresponding to the seasons are different from the far Northern states and the deep South and warm winter areas of the desert Southwestern states. objectives,

      A means of dealing with the planning can start by creating a master sheet that outlines the weekly phases, with more detailed weekly plans identifying the specific activities, and finally the daily schedule. The computer makes the process easier, but still depends on how detailed oriented you are in organizing the training concepts to the ultimate detail oriented daily schedule. This will allow a cost and time analysis to be be constructed with daily, weekly, and monthly budgeting to determine the annual training expenses.

Approach to Training
       Beginner athletes need to understand the need to approach training in various stages of physical and mental preparation. For example:
  General Preparation
Specific Preparation


Intensity Low Low Medium High
Volume High High Medium Low
Recovery Low Low Medium High

Start by forming a weekly training plan
      The first modern use of athletes and coaches subdivided their training into various sub-periods occurred in Germany and who's athletes dominated the 1936 Olympics.

      The modern practice of periodized training was expanded and refined by Eastern block nations during the Cold War (1950-1970). Scientists involved in training athletes have not offered research studies for periodization; However, there is antidotal evidence that supports that the concept works.

      "Periodization of training" means "dividing the training up into periods". Each training period or phase is dominated by one training goal such as increase - speed, strength, and flexibility; enhance endurance; reduce effects of fatigue; achieve maximum performance.

      The phases are not totally devoted to one training mode, but the percentages of the emphasis placed on the training goals change from the beginning to the end of each competitive season.

Transitions of Stages of Life and Sport
      As an athlete develops the technical skills of their sports they are also proceeding through stages of acquiring an education with career related goals, growing physical and emotionally, and developing personal and inter personal relationships. On average, an athlete is likely to face up to seven transitions during their active involvement in participation in a sport(s). Sometimes there are serious conflicts between phases of life that conflict with athletic aspirations. The critical transitions occurs as the athlete:

  • Graduation from high school and the decision of attending a university/college or commencing in full time employment.
  • Progressing to a high performance level such as elite status of National and International competition.
  • The physical and emotional transition that starts with puberty and continues through adolescence
  • Establishing social and sexual relationships of a temporary and permanent nature - dating, one night stands, moving in together, etc.

     Coaches must take into consideration these transitions when planning the annual and long term training programs for their athletes.

Source - Athlete development model - Wylleman (2004)

Source - Science Direct Decisions are made on a daily basis, Some have immediate consequences and others play out over an entire life time.

Many daily decisions seem to be inconsequential. For example drinking too much caffeine, consuming too much salt, being slightly over weight as a child. However, they may play a role in major healthy problems that develop as part of the aging process.

The diagram to the left shows a diagram of a neural network. Athlete development is not a linear model.

Some decisions can be reversed. Others are irreversible.

Athlete development model - Wylleman (2004)
Technical Skill Development and Specific Physical Preparation form the basis of the Pyramid.

The coordination of the entire body provides the second tier of training.

The third tier of development consists of situational drills, strength/conditioning, and enhancing power.

The tactical application of sports skills are combined with performance at full speed and power.

The top tier involves specific periodization of training associated with consistently being able to performed with a minimum degree of imperfections,

Phases of an Annual Training Plan:
    The following generic, periodized annual training plan for multiple competitions is divided into phases with Macro and Micro cycles
          • General Preparation
          • Specific Preparation
          • Pre-competition
          • Tapering off
          • Peaking
          • First Competition of the Season
          • Tapering off
          • Peaking
          • Last Competition of the Season
          • Relaxation
          • Off-season

The ideal training plan should feature:

  • Annual Training Plan –  that periodizes the training to peak at specific events throughout the year.
  • Workout Planner – Based on the goals and information, the athlete can use use a database of workouts to schedule each day of each week of training.
  • Daily Log – Athletes record progress in a daily log that can be accessed by coaches from any computer with an Internet connection and a Web browser

PDF ISSP Position Stand: Career Development and Transitions As summarized by Wylleman, Theeboom, and Lavallee (2004), research into the ..... In the developmental model of transitions faced by athletes.
PDF    athletic     Athletic development. Perfection. Development. Initiation. Discontinuation. 10. 15. 20. 25 ...Wylleman & Lavallee (2004) ... Developmental & holistic model.

Peaking for Competitions To facilitate this, the coach may model many training lessons to create .... Also, in an annual training plan (monocycle), most elite-class athletes require 32 to 36

PDF Long Term Athlete Development - Swimming Canada The Long Term Athlete Development Swimming strategy (LTADS) objectives include .... models from the former East Bloc countries, with all the positive and negative .... Our sport has seen many examples of athletes undertaking adult oriented training.

Annual Training Program An annual training program is necessary to maximize performance.
It is based on the concept of periodization, which divides the annual plan into training phases, and the principles of training. An annual training program is necessary to maximize performance. In principle, this means that athletes must train continually for 11 months, then reduce the amount of work during the last month. This work should vary from regular training to facilitate physiological, psychological, and CNS rest and regeneration before beginning another year of training.

The purpose of a Training Plan - Pro Water Polo The purpose of a Training Plan is to identify the work to be carried out to achieve ... when planning the annual and long term training programs for their athletes.

Intervals, Thresholds, and Long Slow Distance:
Studies involving intensification of training in already well trained athletes have ... use of high intensity interval training throughout the annual training cycle is the ..... should be integrated into the training program for optimal performance gains.

Sports Information

Sports Training

Physical and Mental Training Considerations

Developing A Training Plan

Developing A Plan for Success

The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:
    Developing A Plan for Success
PDF  Nov, Jr, & Sr Skaters Periodized Plan
Over Training Athletes -
Overtraining Syndrome
Overtraining Young Athletes & Injuries
Overtraining Syndrome in Athletes
Physical Overtraining
Training Backfires: Working Too Hard

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