Getting started in periodization can be intimidating as many coaches and trainers who use periodization will start with a quadrennial plan. Based on the Olympic cycle of events. From this quadrennial plan, annual plans are then designed to achieve results that will ultimately provide the best performance at the end of the long term plan. I am sure you know though that this use of periodization is not as useful for most coaches and trainers who are planning for their softball teams best performance at the end of their season which would be local, state and national championships.
The first thing to do is to determine what your goals might be for the upcoming season that you are planning for and then basically work backwards from there. The beginning of your next season actually starts at the end of your previous season. While your softball athletes are recovering and regenerating from the season you are evaluating and reflecting and considering the next one to come.
A long term plan can benefit from the data and and information you collect year to year as a guide for your athletes progress. All Training plans should start with a physical assessment. This will give you information as well for how your athletes are progressing year to year which is what periodization is about.
Things to consider when preparing for your season.
Level of Competition:
- Recreation – not necessarily striving for high performance / fun and participation is the purpose
- Competitive – aiming for high performance but does not require it
- Provincial / Domestic competitions – aiming for high performance and striving for it
- High Performance / National – highest level of performance required
It is critical that you have the level of your team in mind when you are designing your yearly training plan to ensure that adequate steps are taken not only to improve your athletes performance but to keep them engaged in softball.
- objective evaluation is critical in planning an effective program
- a training program must include regeneration and recovery to ensure the best results especially with the amount of tournaments that many teams play.
- goals must be designed with the athlete in mind, based on his/her overall abilities and the resources available
- goals must be specific and measurable including short and long term leading to the main competition
- athletes must begin with a solid physical foundation which will enhance their softball specific training
- softball specific training such as power, agility, speed , coordination and flexibility are required to maximizing their softball potential
- softball is an anaerobic alactic sport which will require more high intensity training
- the ability to perform all technical/tactical skills required for softball under various conditions done through perfect practice in and out of the competition environment
- with as many simulations and situations as possible leading up to the main competition
- team culture
- overall team abilities
- incorporating variety
- health / injury prevention and management
The type of skills in softball
- cyclic – repetitive motion … running etc. – include phases of each motion depending on the sport
- acyclic – a combination of motions that result in an end result …. discuss throw, batting – team and individual sports
- acyclic combined – cyclic followed by acyclic …. figure skating, jumping, track and field, gymnastics events
This will assist in training and teaching the skills. It will be easier to train skills that have acyclic skills as they can be broken down more simply. A skill such as running which is cyclic would best be trained using video analysis as it would be very difficult to break down each phase of a step in running for instance.
Your athletes developmental stage must also be considered.