The different stages in the periodisation cycle are determined by the age of the athlete. They are specifically aimed at developing talent to ensure a high level of performance and results. These three stages are:
- Training to Train: This is general preparation which consists of general fitness work.
- Train to Compete: This is specific preparation which is specific fitness work, for example, speed, strength, skills, technique and increased intensity training.
- Train to Win: This is the pre-competition, competition and peak stage. The Train to Win stage begins at the beginning of the season, goes through to the competition and nationals or championships.
What happens in the Training to Train stage?
During the Training to Train stage, physical changes take place faster in the trainee and training programmes need to be designed to account for these rapid changes as well as the various advantages and disadvantages that they present in trainee development.
During this stage, girls between the ages of 11 and 15, and boys of the ages 12 – 16, reach the onset and completion of the adolescent growth spurt. It is seen as the significant fitness development stage where specifically the aerobic base is built. There is also emphasis placed on the development and consolidation of sport-specific drills during this stage.
As the name implies, more time and effort is dedicated to training the required skills and physical capabilities of the child athlete rather than focusing too much on competition and results—it is geared towards the development of long-term participants and top performers. Towards the end of the stage, emphasis shifts from building an aerobic base to increasing strength and the alactic anaerobic energy system.
What happens during the Train to Compete stage?
This is the sage where competition becomes serious. Formal competition becomes more prominent in annual periodised training, competition and recovery plans and includes major national and international events.
The Train to Compete stage is generally for girls aged between seven and 21 and for boys aged between 16 and 23. It is often seen as the dress rehearsal for the next stage, being the Train to Win stage. In this stage, the athlete should choose one sport to excel in.
The training emphasises the solidifying of sport-specific/position-specific skills and physical attributes. In this stage, the trainee aims to compete in national or international evens where the focus shifts to the outcome and the need to excel in competition.
The volume and intensity increase in order to get the athlete to a higher level of performance. Other factors – like nutrition, sports psychology, recover and injury prevention – become more important to assist in keeping the trainee fit and performing at their best. It is also essential that the formal competitions are scheduled into the training cycles.
What happens in the Train to Win stage?
This stage is directed towards females over the age of 18 and males over the age of 19. This is the final stage of the trainee’s career cycle and the entire focus is on winning and medals. It is usually professionals or full-time trainees that reach this stage of development. The two previous stages have developed and optimised the skills, tactics and capacities of each trainee and they are now at or near their full genetic potential.
The trainee must now maximise and maintain their performance at the highest level. This requires the use of world-class techniques, the latest innovations in techniques, equipment and facilities to meet this demand. Due to the intense nature of the training, there may be a need for a double, triple or even multiple periodisations to allow for enough training and rest time.
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