Planning the Training
The purpose of a Training Plan is to identify the work to be carried out to achieve agreed objectives. Training Plans should be drawn up to identify long term (4 years) objectives as well as short term plans for the forth coming season. For the rest of this topic I will concentrate on the development of the short term annual Training Plan. In its simplest form the plan could comprise of a single, A4 sheet identifying the overall plan for the year, and more detailed weekly plans identifying the specific activities the athlete is to carry out.
The start of the training year will depend upon the athlete's circumstances and objectives, but this would generally be around October for track and field athletics.
The first stage of preparing a Training Plan is to gather background information about your athlete and the objectives for the forth coming season. The sort of information to collect is as follows:
Analysis of the last program
If this is not the first program you have generated with the athlete then an important activity to conduct is a SWOT analysis of the last training program:
Before we can start to create a training program we need to analyse our athlete to determine their strengths and weaknesses. The first step is to identify the ideal attributes (e.g. body build, strength, endurance, speed, flexibility etc) that will allow our athlete to achieve their agreed goals. The next step is to assess our athlete against our ideal athlete to identify their strengths and weaknesses (gap analysis). Addressing the gaps may require us to think in terms of long term planning (4-8 years) but for this macrocycle we can set realistic but challenging goals to start to address the gaps. The following link provides an example form for this athlete analysis process.
Periodisation is the method of organising the training year into phases where each phase has its specific aims for the development of the athlete.
The phases of a training year
The training year is divided into 6 phases as follows:
This assumes that the competition climax will be in August
What if there is an indoor and an outdoor season?
For the athlete with competitive objectives for both the indoor and outdoor season then the phase allocation for the indoor season could be as follows:
and the outdoor season as follows:
This assumes that the climax of the indoor season is in February and the outdoor season in August. Depending on your athlete's objectives and abilities, then the year start and duration of each phase may have to be adjusted to achieve appropriate development.
Objectives of each phase
The objectives of each phase are as follows:
Activities of each Phase
The athlete's physical needs that require development are:
Each of these needs should be seen as a building block, where specific blocks need to be in place before you progress to the next. Failure to do this may result in injury. How you allocate the blocks to each phase depends upon the athlete's weaknesses and strengths and is for you as the coach to decide with the athlete.
One approach is to progress the building blocks as follows:
When progressing from one block to the next, remember to fade one out as the other comes in and not to switch from one block to the next overnight. Some blocks once started may continue to the end of the season but at a less intense level e.g. mobility. Other blocks to consider are relaxation, visualisation and psychology (mental attitude).
Volume, Intensity & Recovery
The relationship of Volume of work, Intensity of the work and Recovery within the session:
Preparing a plan
The steps in producing a Training Plan are as follows:
As an athlete matures, they are not only developing in terms of their sports but also in terms of education, career, physical maturity and their relationships with those around them. On average, an athlete is likely to face up to seven transitions during their full athletic and perhaps the critical transition occurs around the age of 20 when they may be:
Coaches must take into consideration these transitions when planning the annual and long term training programs for their athletes.
Athlete development model - Wylleman (2004)
Macrocycle is a period of time (e.g. 11 months) defining the available preparation time up to a major competition.
This can be divided into developmental periods called Mesocycles. A mesocycle is usually 4-8 weeks in duration and has a specific objective e.g. general preparation, specific preparation, competition.
A Microcycle is a shorter training period of about 7-10 days and includes more detailed information on the intensity, frequency, duration and sequencing of the Training Sessions.
The following link provides an example of an Annual Training Plan (Macrocycle, Mesocycle and Microcycle) to help guide you with the planning of an athlete's training program.
A training unit is a single activity (e.g. 6 × 60 metres at 90% effort with 2 minutes recovery) with a set objective (e.g. develop specific endurance). A training session is made up of one or more training units e.g. warm up unit, Technique drills unit, Speed Endurance unit and a cool down unit.
A training schedule (microcycle) comprises of a number of training sessions that can span from 7 to 10 days.
Goal setting is a simple, yet often misused motivational technique that can provide some structure for your training and competition program. Goals give a focus, and there are two well known acronyms to guide goal setting.
The basic principles of fitness training are summed up in the acronym F.I.T.T
When developing a training program it is important, especially for young athletes, to take into consideration the athlete's:
Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) is a sports development framework that matches training needs to an athlete's growth and development.
General Annual Training Programs
The following are examples of basic training programs suitable for the young athlete or for the mature athlete who is just starting out in Track and Field athletics:
For the experienced athlete select this link for examples of event specific annual training programs.
The following references provide additional information on this topic:
The reference for this page is:
The following Sports Coach pages provide additional information on this topic: