Bye Bompa, Bompa Bye Bye….the death of periodisation.

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    This is well worth a read it is important for everyone involved in programming to read and understand this message, cheers, ashley

    Bye Bye Bompa, Bompa Bye Bye….the death of periodisation.
    By Wayne Goldsmith | website : In Coaching Tips

    First let me say I have total, 100% complete admiration and respect for Bompa himself – a true pioneer of the sports coaching and the sports performance industry. This article is in no way a criticism of him personally but rather a proclamation that PERIODISATION as a concept is now officially dead and buried.
    Periodization – that is, the traditional sports training planning model involving long blocks (cycles or phases) of training which emphasise specific aspects of training is 20 years past the use by date and it’s time we all moved on to something more relevant and more effective for the training and preparation of athletes in this century.
    The popular version of periodisation was developed in the Eastern block, 40 years ago, for senior athletes: another time, another system, another world – and totally inappropriate for today’s athletes.

    Today’s athletes – the Generation Y athletes – demand programs which are:
    § Unique – not contrived – not a “one size fits all” solution to performance
    § Specific – to them as individuals
    § Responsive – to change and to their day to day (and even session to session) needs
    § Individualised – to match each athlete’s unique recovery abilities
    § Integrated – to take into consideration the overall mental, emotional, cultural and even spiritual needs of the athlete as a unique individual.

    So what’s the alternative to periodisation?
    1. The specific goal of all training is to provide the optimal stimulus for each individual athlete at every training session. How planning long blocks of training weeks in advance and rigidly sticking to them can be called an optimal training environment is beyond any-one’s guess. Optimal training comes from basing training around each individual athlete’s ability to recover and responding to the unique needs of each individual athlete at every session!

    2. Periodisation is based around calendar weeks and months – so it assumes that all athletes adapt to loading at 6 am Monday morning or on the first day of the month. The only reason the classic periodisation model is based on ”weeks and months” is to fit into the 1960’s definition of a working week. In reality, training cycles can be two days, four days, twenty six days, ninety seven days or whatever it takes to achieve the targeted adaptations. It doesn’t even have to be measured in terms of days – it can be hours, a number of sessions or be based on the achievement of measurable changes to performance without any time limit……whatever is meaningful in enhancing the performance of the athlete.

    3. Periodisation assumed all performance is physical. That is, load the athlete through sequential cycles of physical training stress and they will perform in competition. Performance is multi faceted and an integration of mind, body, spirit. It’s physical, mental, tactical, strategic, technical, emotional, cultural. The exclusively physical model of athlete preparation is hopefully extinct and gone forever.

    4. The most precious thing in most sports is speed. Who cares if you can repeat something 500 times at 95% intensity if you can’t do it once in competition conditions at 100%. The traditional periodisation model “killed off” speed with weeks (or months) of non specific volume (base) training and then relied on tapering to bring it back. Modern thinking is to be able to work on speed all year round and never be too far away from top speed at any time.

    So once again, thanks to Bompa for his original work. It provided a good basic training planning framework for coaches and athletes for the past 30 years. But it’s time to move on.

    Just as no one watches black and white TV, plays vinyl records or smokes cigarettes any more, it’s time to move on to another paradigm in athlete training and preparation.

    It’s time for the individualised, optimal training and preparation paradigm to take over: where each session takes into account the specific needs and recovery level of each athlete at every moment.

    Wayne Goldsmith
    September 17, 2008


    Interesting article.

    Ironically, just this morning I read an interview with Bompa himself. He said he’d read a lot of these types of articles and felt that without periodisation there would only be chaos when it came to programme planning. He did accept however that traditional linear periodisation is being replaced more frequently by the, arguably, more practical undulating, non-linear model.

    It’s difficult to make blanket statements about periodisation, as Wayne does above, because some form of traditional linear periodisation will always need to be applied for events that require a peak, like track and field.

    But for team sports, I whole-heartedly agree with Ash that linear periodastion has no real place and that conjugate method is the way forward.

    As always, read, analyse, use what works for YOU, and leave what doesn’t.


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