soccer training skills

Soccer Periodization,
(a yearly master plan)

A sports training year can be broken into 3 main sections, namely
  • "Off" season
  • "Preparatory" season 
  • "Competitive" season

Each one of these is in turn divided into their own unique
phases and cycles.
The shortest is the Off season (Transition Phase), where the athlete takes a break from the main sport.

This is a time for the coaches to do their main planning.
Soccer is no exception to this rule.

The Base or Preparatory phase is the longest as it will be a
time of getting the team ready for the final stage, the competitive phase.
The competitive phase is where the team will be required to "peak". This is where the games that are played competitively have to be won. This is where the athletes are performing at their optimum level, with the coaches help.

Each phase is in turn divided into macro cycles and then into micro cycles and finally into the individual practice sessions.

So, what Does 'Periodization' mean and how does it work?

Here is some background on this subject. If you have ever wondered how the Russians were kicking everyone's butts for three decades in sports, here is the answer. Yes, there were some Eastern Block women that looked like they could play for the American football or rugby clubs, and maybe that wasn't natural, but the answer is partly due to something called 'Periodization'. This is a training philosophy without the
use of performance enhancers in a bottle.

Tudor O. Bompa, who is considered the 'Father of Periodization' refined the ideas of Russian sports scientists in the early 1960s. During the 1940s the Russian scientists tried dividing the training year into different training periods.
Lately a great icon of Canadian sports, Istvan Balyi has
refined this and become the world-wide leader of this process.
This has left Bomba's contribution of Plyometrics to reign
supreme in the world of sports.

Previously, the training was to maintain the same constant stresses year round. Could you imagine doing the same
workouts week in and week out? The new method was to
create some periods of training that were easier then the
others to promote rest and to let the body grow stronger.

Most training programs today are an off-shoot of Bompa's theory,
and it's how the successful athletes of today train.
Periodization involves many variables including:

  • frequency (how 'often' you train),
  • duration (how 'long' you train for one session),
  • volume (how 'much' you train in a given week or cycle) and
  • intensity (how 'hard' you train at any given time).

From these variables a recipe is created that will hopefully help you reach your peak for the key competitions you are targeting. There are four to five phases in a given annual training plan,
with the variables changing within each phase.

Preparation (Prep) Phase
The first phase of training is called the Preparation (Prep) Phase. This is a period of time from three to six weeks. It involves performing your aerobic activities at a low heart rate
and it helps your body adjust to the rigours of training again.
This is also the time to work on your drills for each sport.

This would include many of the drills in swimming, isolated leg pedaling in cycling and/or strides in running.
The workouts in the Prep Phase are usually short in duration,
low in intensity, and may be frequent. The volume for this
cycle is low. This period prepares you for the Base Phase.

Base Phase
This phase can last anywhere from twelve to twenty four weeks. The longer this phase lasts usually means the more aerobically
fit you are entering your key sessions for the season.
The Base Phase runs in three to four week 'blocks', and can
have up to six blocks within this phase. These would be called Base Phase Two, Three, etc. The number of blocks you have in this phase is dependant on your training experience.
If you are in your first few years of training, the more blocks you do in the base phases, the better off you will be in the long run.

This phase continues to focus on increasing your aerobic capacity while improving your efficiency with drills and skill workouts.
The intensity in this cycle remains low or non-existent, while the frequency may drop, and the duration of your longer workouts keeps extending itself. The volume in this cycle starts out low, but will eventually be your greatest of the year as you get closer toward the end of your base phase. After the Base Phase has been completed and you get closer to your key races, the next step is the Build Phase.

Build Phase
This phase drops in volume, increases in intensity and may keep the same or drop off in duration. The key to this phase is to become more efficient (faster) at a certain distance or go further in a certain time period.

Adding 'interval' training to your workouts does this. These intervals can be repeats in the pool, on the track, or on your bicycle. In this phase, the volume is consistent, the intensity high, and your duration for your long workouts should be at an
all year high. This phase lasts about four to eight weeks and comes right before the big race, or game.

Before we get to the big event or events, we do something
called 'peaking'.


Peak Phase,
'Peaking' itself is a very tricky thing to do. Basically, you are trying to bring together your whole season for one or two important events. It could be the local divisional cup where you need to beat your arch rival, or it could be a qualifier for the World Championships.

Either way, you want to perform your best. In order to peak for the competition, we taper down our training. We cut back to let our bodies rest and restore themselves.

Our volume is low, our intensity is high, and our duration is short. Frequency for some is quite high, as some athletes like to keep their 'feel' for the turf or keep their running 'rhythm'.

Others don't have such problems and cut back the frequency as well.
This is when training is personal choice. After your race or event, and hopefully successful season, you move into the final phase
of the year, the Transition Phase.

Transition Phase
This is a time to just kick back, and do something other than competing. It can mean a time to do nothing for a few weeks,
or it could mean the time of the year that you try out some new sports that don't involve kicking, dribbling, and heading. Toward the end of this phase, you want to start organizing your plans for the upcoming season.
A new Prep Phase will almost be upon you and you get to do it
all over again.
This is the time to analyze the past season's events, areas of concern and problems.
Be critical of yourself, this way you can concentrate on the
areas that need improvement.
You can only get better.