Stop Wasting Your Training Time-This Concept Will Maximize Your Performance

Here is A Plan To Play At Your Peak When It Counts

By: Ethan Banning
Certified Structural Health Specialist, and Certified Strength Coach
Human Performance
January 27, 2020

The development of a properly outlined yearly training regimen has a tremendous effect on the individual and team’s success. With this in mind, the theoretical principle of Periodization plays an important role in the strength and conditioning coach’s decision making through-out the competitive year. Periodization is the principle of developing a long term (yearly) training outline for a specific sport’s competitive year.  The main concept of periodization is to break down the competitive year into “phases.”

These phases each have specific goals and program guidelines set to help prepare the athlete to be physically and mentally ready for the competitive season.  There are numerous factors that must be considered in the development of a successful periodization model. Volume, intensity, frequency, exercise selection, exercise choice, recovery, linear speed development, change of direction, plyometric training, basic skill development, aerobic and anaerobic conditioning are some of the main factors that must be accounted for.  Although nothing can be set in stone, a periodization outline allows a coach to have the framework for the specific goals through-out the competitive year. This allows the coach to have a plan in place and if necessary make adjustments to future training stages.

How To Create A Schedule That Works For You 

This annual plan is based specifically on the competitive year for college football.  However, this model can be adapted for all sports at any level. The annual plan begins the day after our last competition of the previous season and ends the day of the last competition of the upcoming season.  This allows for a gradual increase in the development of the athlete from one season to the next without unnecessary breaks that would hinder improved performance.

There are four phases in an annual Sports Performance program for football.  Each phase has a very specific set of goals for the athlete and a period of time in which to achieve these goals.  The first phase is the Regenerative Phase.  This phase starts immediately following the Championship game and is generally 2-8 weeks (5-15% of the year) in duration.  The next phase is the General Physical Preparedness (GPP) Phase.  The GPP phase begins immediately following the Regen Phase and is 12-16 weeks (23-30% of the year) in duration.  Following the GPP Phase is the Strength/Speed Phase.  This phase is 12-16 weeks (23-30% of the year) in duration.  The final phase of the year is the Competitive Phase.   The Competitive or “In-Season” Phase is 17 weeks (33% of the year) in duration which makes it the longest phase of the year and the most important.   

At what point does an athlete need to be at their peak?  The peak should be during the playoff run of the competitive phase.  Every team is guaranteed a 12 game regular season, and as we know, teams who perform well will earn an opportunity to play in a bowl game.  The misconception in sports is that we prepare athletes to peak at the start of the competitive phase, and let them “coast” or “maintain” throughout the rest of the season.  In comparison to the business world, would a great business strive to peak profit in the middle of the third quarter and “coast” or “maintain” throughout the rest of the year? No, I don’t think they would. The 33% of the total year that lies during the competitive phase cannot be disregarded as a “maintenance” period. To be successful this period must be used as an opportunity to maximize potential so that we are peaking for the championship.

The early phases of the training year are used to lay a foundation that will help increase the athlete’s General Physical Preparedness (GPP), technical proficiency and muscle hypertrophy. Increasing GPP essentially means getting conditioned or in better shape while learning to control our body weight.  Technical proficiency is teaching our athletes how to perform exercises and drills with proper form. While this is emphasized year round, it is especially important in the early stages of training so that the athletes lay a strong foundation to build their athletic success.  We work to help them understand basic movements before we teach them advanced movements; learn to crawl before we walk. Another important part of this phase is muscle hypertrophy also known as muscular growth. While this is an ability that will be trained year round, it is emphasized earlier in training to prepare the body for the strength work that will be performed later in the year. We consider GPP, technical proficiency and hypertrophy to be the base or “foundation” of our program; we build our homes on a solid “foundation” of stone, not sand.   This is the same philosophy that we use to build our athletes.   

During the next phase of training, the Strength/Speed Phase, we will continue to build upon our foundation, as well as put an emphasis on some new training modalities.  After an appropriate foundation has been laid, we will push to further develop both strength and speed. This is accomplished by completing lifts with higher intensities and moderate volumes and by performing high intensity/effort runs and jumps, as well as lower intensity runs to continue improving GPP and promote recovery. This phase leads up to the start of the competitive phase. 

The competitive, or “In-Season”, phase of the football season begins with the first week of practice in August and ends the day after the last game.  During the competitive phase, the goal is to continue to allow our athletes to improve on the level of physical preparation developed during the prior stages.  Although this is a difficult task, come championship time, we want our team to be the best-prepared and conditioned team on the field.  In 2012 a State High School Championship football team in Arizona will have had a season lasting 17 total weeks. This accounts for 33% or a third of the total year.  While games do not start until the end of August, the weeks of practice prior to games are still considered the competitive phase due to the high volume and intensities of practice periods. Once the competitive season starts, the strength training program will make major adjustments to account for likely stressors to the athletes.

Things that are taken into account are: number of practices per week, number of padded practices per week, intensity of the practices, weekly school schedule, weekly opponent, fatigue level of the team, etc.  As practice starts, the first things that are adjusted in the Sports Performance Program are the volume done during both runs and lifts. The athletes will be under high volumes of running and hitting during practices and games, so we want to minimize the volume where we can in the Sports performance program. While there will still be periods where we train with higher intensities, we cycle our loading each week based on where we are in the season, the overall health/fatigue of the team, and who the opponent is during the current week. The goal during the season is to elicit the maximum response out of the least amount of stimulation necessary.   

As the season progresses, volume and intensity will be further monitored, to continue making gains and improving. GPP will be continually improved upon through both daily practices and weight training. As always, technical proficiency will be continued to be emphasized. While hypertrophy is not the main goal during the season, it will still be trained during accessory movements to create structural balance in the body. Speed will continue to be improved upon by various jumping methods. Strength will be most emphasized during the season, and continued to improve on by cycling lifting intensities.

The Proof Is In The Performance-Can You Set Personal Bests During The Season?

One example of a program with a similar philosophy was written about the success of the San Francisco 49ers. An article published by The Sacramento Bee entitled “Trainer a hidden strength of 49ers” touches base on their in-season training. The article discusses how in the midst of the 49ers playoff run in January 2012, their players were continually setting “personal bests” in their lifts. Strength and conditioning coach Mark Uyeyama asks “Why, when your performance should be at its highest, should you be at your weakest?” Coach Uyeyama shares a similar philosophy on continuing to train and improve during the season to peak at the highest level of competition. In 2012, the 49ers reached the NFC Championship game. They were able to do this by getting stronger throughout the course of the season.

Old dogmas about training need to be revisited.  Science based research has proven that periodicity works.  Coaches, athletes and parents should take this into account as they devise a plan to compete.  By following my advice you create the absolute best opportunity to perform like an elite Athlete.

Elite Athletes TV Coach Ethan Banning comes with a unique set of skills that was built from his sports background. 

As an 8 year pro in Arena Football League (AFL)  Coach Banning won 3 world championships He kicked off his new career in human performance development with his company Triple Threat Performance in 2004. He quickly developed a no-holds-barred regimental human strength and conditioning methodology for the elite athlete from high school, collegiate to pro levels.  Banning is not only a coach.  

Banning, Whois a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), graduated with a Master’s in education from the Arizona State University outside of being a coach he is also an exceptional teacher for his athletes.

He was the Sports Performance Coordinator at Scottsdale Community College, overseeing all aspects of sports performance for 350 Student-athletes. In addition, he was a strength consultant for Major League Baseball developing, implementing and overseeing all aspects of player strength and power development for players from international countries. In 2008, Banning became the State Director of National Strength and Conditioning Association for AZ.
Joining Rehab Plus Physical Therapy as Elite Performance Coach in 2012, Banning oversaw strength and conditioning, performance training, speed, agility and structural balance. He was also the off-season assistant strength coach for NFL’s Carolina Panthers. Being only one of six strength and conditioning coaches to be a part of the MLB and the NFL.  

Currently he is the owner of Triple Threat Performance, in Scottsdale, AZ Where he functions both as a human performance coach and a Certified Structural Health Specialist. As such, he has trained a number of medical staffs in both MLB and the NFL on implementation of healing modalities and a variety of treatment techniques.