Planning your athlete's training is essential - here is how to do it
Brian Mackenzie explains how to prepare an athlete's training program to ensure both short and long-term objectives are achieved at the right time in the season.
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 forthcoming 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 forthcoming season. The sort of information to collect is as follows:
It 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 the 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).
Preparing a plan
The steps in producing a Training Plan are as follows:
What are a training unit and a training session?
A training unit is a single activity (e.g. 6x60m at 90% effort with 2 min 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.
What is the training schedule?
A training schedule (microcycle) comprises many training units that can span from 7 to 30 days.
What are a Microcycle, Mesocycle & Macrocycle
A microcycle, also known as a training schedule, is a group of training units. The mesocycle, also known as a macrocycle, is several repeats of a microcycle.
Goal setting is a simple, yet often misused motivational technique which can provide some structure for your training and competition programme. Goals give a focus, and there are two well-known acronyms to guide goal setting.
SMART or SMARTER
The basic principles of fitness training are summed up in the acronym FITT.
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About the Author
Brian Mackenzie is a British Athletics level 4 performance coach and a coach tutor/assessor. He has been coaching sprint, middle distance, and combined event athletes for the past 30+ years and has 45+ years of experience as an endurance athlete.