What is periodisation? In this article, we will discuss the following:
- What is Periodisation in Sport?
- What is a Macrocycle?
- What is a Mesocycle?
- What is a Microcycle?
- How and Why is Periodisation helpful?
- Problems with Periodisation
What is Periodisation in Sport?
Periodisation is a process sports coaches use to help plan their coaching programmes. The three different cycles of periodisation are:
The benefit of periodisation is that sports coaches are able to plan their coaching programmes so that their athletes are at peak performance when need be. An easy example of this is the coaching cycle of a footballer.
Example: The three main cycles in the football season are pre-season training, maintenance (competitive season) and Post Season/recovery cycle.
What is a Macrocycle?
A Macrocycle oversees most coaching programmes and tends to run over a year or more. For a football coach, this could be simply broken down in Pre-season, competitive season and Post season/recovery. More areas could include a breakdown of a competitive season (First third, second third and last third of a football season).
What is a Mesocycle?
A mesocycle in periodisation is when planning a coaching programme roughly over a 4 week period or a month.
An example of a mesocycle could be:
- Week 1 – Strength and Conditioning & Set Play
- Week 2 – Strength and Conditioning & Set Play
- Week 3 – Tactical Awareness, Set Play & Pre-season Match
- Week 4 – Strength and Conditioning & Tactical Awareness
What is a Microcycle?
Sports coaches plan by using different cycles. The first major cycle of periodisation is the Microcycle.
The microcycle tends to have a length of a week. This is what coaches plan to complete in training throughout the week. An example of what could a microcycle could be below:
- Day 1 – Defending
- Day 2 – Fitness
- Day 3 – Rest
- Day 4 – Set Play
- Day 5 – Rest
- Day 6 – Competitive Match
- Day 7 – Rest
Note: Our downloadable sports session planning template is recommended for helping plan your microcycle.
How and why is periodisation helpful?
In 1972, Leonaid Mateyev released an article outlining a new method of training for athletes. This was further developed in 1977. A good review of the science behind Periodisation can be found here.
The training strategy is helpful in developing peak performance for when it is needed. For example, many athletes aim to be at peak performance for national competitions and certain times of the year. By managing recovery, strength and conditioning development and the increase in intensity and frequency, sports coaches are able to use periodisation to improve performance.
If you are looking into using periodisation in your training, we recommend the book “Periodization: Theory and Methodology of Training“. The book explains more theories of how to use periodization and more importantly, it gives strategies on how to use periodization and more detailed guides on how to create your periodization plan.
Enjoying this article? You may also be interested in our Sports Coaching Learning Centre page where you can find more articles on sports coaching development and techniques.
Problems with Periodisation
The main problems with periodisation are:
- Sports coaching programmes will need to change dependant on the performance level of an athlete
- Coaches need to be aware of the impacts of periodisation on the age of an athlete
- Coaches will need to select the correct periodisation programme for their athlete
One major problem with periodisation is managing the performance of an athlete to peak at the right time. Sports coaches need to ensure their coaching plan is appropriate for their athlete as well as enabling their athlete/s to improve.
A full periodisation programme may not be necessarily appropriate for children due to harm this could bring, whether this be physically or emotionally.
Other factors include the possibility of overloading athletes. This is where a periodisation programme has high intensity cycles with not enough recovery time. Therefore, an athlete is more likely to become injured or result in burnout.
Coaches also need to be aware of reversibility occurring. This is the opposite of overloading. Reversibility occurs when an athlete’s performance reduces due to either too much rest/recovery or too little progression.
How has Periodisation helped us?
We found that this helps coaches with their long term coaching programmes. To fully apply the periodisation principles, sports coaches need to first fully understand when they want their athletes/team to be at their best. Athletes cannot sustain peak performance for weeks/months on end and this strategy will help in ensuring successful progression. Using a sports planner can help. Sports session notepad planner.
Periodisation has also supported coaches with their planning of individual coaching sessions. As well as providing structure and purpose to training sessions.
Now that you have learnt what periodisation is, how to plan using periodisation as well as some of the problems with this method of planning in sport. A Macrocycle, Microcycle and Mesocycle should all be familar words. Why not begin to put together your own coaching plan and then show this to other coaches for feedback.
Our Sports Coaching Learning Centre has many more techniques and strategies for you to learn and develop.
Mateyev L. Periodisierang des SprotichenTraining. Berlin, Germany: Berles and Wernitz, 1972. 51.
Matveyev L. Fundamentals of Sport Training. Moscow, Russia: Fizkultura i Sport, 1977.
Turner, T. The Science and Practice of Periodization: A Brief Review, National Strength and Conditioning Association. 2011, 33(1), 34-46.
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