- Preparation: This is the period of training that comes first in which skills, mechanics and techniques are refined, the athlete begins a regular training schedule after having taken time off, and he/she prepares for a more intense period of training. During this phase, strength/resistance training should be developed, cardiovascular training built, and movement economy practiced. This period can last anywhere from four to twelve weeks.
- Base: This is the period of training in which endurance, force and speed are built. This is when the athlete prepares for the next session which is the building session by establishing an overall base of fitness that will carry him/her through the season.
- Build: This period is where the athlete gradually increases intensity, duration and frequency of workouts to more closely approximate the requirements of the sport he or she is competing in later in the season. The build period includes a lot of endurance and muscular endurance work, plus increased force training. It is during this period that many athletes push too hard, and are more susceptible to injury. Because the concept of periodization means a progressively increasing and strategically focused training schedule, it is important to remember to allow more recovery time as the quantity and intensity of training increases.
- Peak: The peak period is the time during which the athlete’s intensity is highest, and therefore recovery needs are also highest. This is where the athlete attempts to most closely simulate the specific needs of his/her sport prior to the first race or competition, including all the strategies required for racing or other competition.
- Race: Race period, or as it might be known in some sports, “Competition” period, is the time when the athlete should be fully prepared and be at the highest fitness level possible for his or her sport. If the preparation, base, build, and peak phases were all maximized and used properly to strategically progress the fitness and endurance level of the athlete, then he or she should be ready to compete at the highest levels possible.
- Transition: This period is the “off-season” and usually lasts from 4-8 weeks. This is a time when rest (both physical and psychological) is substituted for focused sport specific training. Active rest and cross training are effective ways to maintain overall fitness during the transition time.
- Current cultural trends towards health and wellness
- Love of a chosen sport/fun
- Release of brain chemicals that reduce stress, anxiety, etc.
- Mental escape
- Sense of control
- General sense of accomplishment
- Pay, prizes, awards, scholarships
- Social aspects
- Body image
- Reduce effects of aging
- Ability to eat more
- Exercise addiction
- Weight loss or management
- Rehabilitation from injury or illness
- Educational requirement
- Mood elevation, increase feeling of happiness
- Force of habit
Researchers have found that the number one motive for exercise across all populations is to improve health. For younger athletes however, ages 16-25, the number one motivator is competition. Support of family and friends was paramount to success with exercise programs, and it was found that those persons who participate in shorter workouts at higher intensities feel more confident that they can continue exercising in the future. It has also been found that people who exercise at a moderate intensity, more often, are more successful sticking with their exercise program than those who exercise at higher intensities, less often.[iv]
Ultimately, before undertaking what amounts to a behavioral and physiological change program in a given athlete, the professional should work with the athlete to understand his or her personal motivations to change. Is it for injury prevention? It is for injury rehabilitation or pain management? Or is the change required or desired primarily for performance improvement? Ultimately, without this knowledge, it is unlikely that the professional will be able to design and prescribe a program that will strengthen where there are weaknesses, loosen where there is tightness, re-program long-established neuromuscular patterns, influence habits and ultimately improve movement.
In addition to the above, we also must understand how to motivate an athlete to "train differently". If they are use to using massive weights and performing multiple reps with pathokinematics, how do we change their mind set. Two things we have found to be very beneficial and which is supported by the current research. In 2015, Agresta et al published a paper in the JOSPT that showed the importance and impact that visual feedback has on helping runners change their gait patterns. When an athlete sees how they move and understands how that correlated to impact on performance and injury rates, they are much more likely to focus on corrective techniques. In 2013, Ardern et al in the AJSM showed that one of the major factors determining an athletes ability to return to sport post ACLR is what is called Sport Locus Control. Simply stated, this is the athletes perception that they are in control of their destiny versus something external. This is important in assisting athletes in changing their movement patterns so they feel like they have some control over that.
Sport Locus Control can easily be provided to the athlete by:
- Filming them during movement assessment and review the video with them
- Educate them on why the movements are occurring and the impact has on performance and injury rates
- Educate them on the exercises that will assist in reducing these pathokinematics
- Education them on things to watch out for with their traditional strength and conditioning exercises
- Empower them to know they can make a difference
Dr. Nessler is a practicing physical therapist with over 17 years sports medicine clinical experience and a nationally recognized expert in the area of athletic movement assessment. He is the developer of an athletic biomechanical analysis and author of a college textbook on this subject. He serves as the National Director of Sports Medicine for Physiotherapy Associates, is Chairman of Medical Services for the International Obstacle Racing Federation and associate editor of the International Journal of Athletic Therapy and Training.