Planning a Training Year (Periodisation)

Planning a Training Year (Periodisation)

  • Phases of competition (pre-season, in-season and off-season phases)
  • Subphases (macro and microcycles)
  • Peaking
  • Tapering
  • Sport-specific subphases (fitness components, skill requirements)

Phases of Competition (pre-season, in-season and off-season phases)

  • Pre-season
    • Preparation phase before the season.
    • Rudimentary training sessions are established.
    • Often broken down into general and specific mesocycles.
    • Focus is given on fitness indicators (cardiovascular endurance, muscle strength etc.).
  • In-season
    • Can be prolonged or short depending on the sport.
    • For sports that have match days within short intervals, training volume is reduced.
    • The training sessions of this phase are more skills and strategy oriented.
  • Off-season
    • Training phase post season ending.
    • Involves relaxation and recovery.
    • For a period of time, players are given a break from training or asked to train in decreased volume and intensity.
    • Once the recovery phase is complete, pre-season training sets are initiated again.


  • Macro
    • Includes longer training cycles that run through the whole year.
    • However, the duration of the cycle is also sport dependent.
    • For example, a 4 year macrocycle is required for an athlete training to compete in the Olympics, while a tennis or a football player has a macrophase extending for a single year.
  • Micro
    • Training programs are small, often run for a week only.
    • Often focused on smaller training sessions that add up to a macrocycle, working as building blocks.
    • Applicable for sporting events that run through the week.


  • The time when an athlete is performing at their best.
  • An athlete reaches their peak in combination with great physical fitness, understanding and proper execution of skills along with development of strategic thinking capabilities.
  • Peaking is not a permanent trait of athletes. However, during the short lived period an athlete is found to be:
    • Recovering quickly
    • Showing optimum fitness performances
    • Strategically aware
    • Focused and confident
    • Making quick and correct decisions


  • Reduction in training volume to allow peaking before the competition.
  • Allows recovery time for the athlete to heal and repair minor injuries and retain full fitness.
  • However, training sets shouldn’t be decreased drastically since it could affect cardiovascular endurance.

Sport-specific Subphases

  • Combination of meso and microcycles specific to a sport that build up the bigger training goals.
  • Throughout the training period, important determinants such fitness, skills and other variables are focused on.
  • For example, triathletes need to be focused more on cardiovascular endurance than basketball players.