Principles of Periodization

Check out a great article on “Periodization” from NADINE WAEGHE, MPT ATC on this topic.

Click here to know more about the Author. -> NADINE WAEGHE, MPT ATC

“Periodization” is the term for determining your sport schedule based on a long-term training plan. That plan should be designed to control and 

1. Volume of training and competition (amount of work performed)

Intensity of training and competition (how hard you work in your training)

3. Frequency of training and competition (how often you train)

The focus of your plan should be to ensure your training is efficient and focused on quality not quantity. An effectively periodized program balances intensity and volume of the training load with sufficient and proper recovery to maximize the body’s adaptation to training without risking injury, illness, over training or burnout.

Peak Performance

A Periodization Training Plan allows you to attain PEAK performance at the most desired times throughout the year. Your program should be individualized based on physiological development, fitness level and competition schedule. A well-prepared training plan helps:

Increase: Decrease:


Physical Conditioning 

Stamina & Energy

Mental Alertness 


Enjoyment Stress

A Periodization Program typically includes four TRAINING PHASES, which should be incorporated into your schedule several times throughout the year:

Preparation Phase

Goal: Increase strength, stamina, mental and physical resilience so you bounce back faster.

Duration: The length of this phase should be a minimum of three weeks.

It is important to develop a strong aerobic and strength base in the preparation phase. Focus on high volume, low intensity work. Incorporate longer distance activities such as running, biking or swimming for at least 20 minutes. Choose endurance activities different from those required by your sport (cross training). Add strength training and drills to sharpen up your skills. This is the time you and your coach can work on technique modifications, if needed.

Remember to use a smart training schedule – for every 5 days of training take one day off.

Pre-Competition Phase

Goal: Increase power, explosiveness and agility to improve sport-specific performance.

Duration: The length of this phase should be at approximately two weeks.

In this phase, training routines should become more sports specific, increasing intensity while reducing the volume of training. Although there will still be a cardiovascular component to the training program, more attention should be placed on explosive movement and strength training exercises.

Competition Phase

Goal: Maintain strength and endurance levels during competition.

Duration: The length of this phase is dependent upon the sport season but is most effective in three-week cycles.

Research and experience by sports sciences professionals indicates that true peak performance can only be maintained for approximately 3-4 weeks. Depending upon the amount of competition (games, matches, tournaments) you have during each 3-week period, your training should be performed at high intensity, while the volume is typically much lower.

Active Rest Phase

Goal: Adequate mental and physical recovery to refresh, replenish and rebuild.

Duration: The length of this phase is dependent upon the sport season and may be as short as five days or as long as three weeks.

The most important (and difficult) component of a proper periodization training program is recognizing when to give your body a break and truly rest. 

It is recommended that athletes take a short break after 3-4 consecutive weeks of competition. Initially take a couple of days to recover through complete rest from physically taxing activities. It is a good time for massage, relaxing and fun activities with friends away from sport, and taking a mental break. 

Maintain your fitness level by participating in other sports and cross training activities such as boot camp, biking, dancing, and swimming.

In addition to the demands of your sport season and training schedule other factors can have a physical, emotional, and/or mental affect on athletes, and should be taken into consideration when creating your schedule:

* Travel – distance to/from competition, time zone changes, climate & weather changes

* Health – nutrition / diet, sleep,
 family / hobbies

* Competition -- frequency, intensity, seeding

* Practice -- location, frequency, duration, extended rest, taking short & more frequent rests

* Venue / Playing Surfaces -- adjustment & practice modification, equipment change

* Injuries -- proper medical & physical therapy care, allow time for rest, recovery and rehabilitation

* School / Work - take time & energy and are important commitments

It is important to sit down with your coach while planning your year and decide which tournaments /events are most important for your sporting career, development, health and where and how you will peak.


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