History of Periodisation
The concept of Periodisation was formally developed by weight-lifting coaches in Russia in the 1960s (Matveyev, 1981, Vorobyev, 1978). Its purpose was to guide the training programme so that the weightlifter would minimise overtraining and optimise development with the goal of peaking for one major competition at the end of the season or macrocycle. This was typically applied to the Olympic cycle format where a weightlifter’s training progression would be planned over a 4-year period. This concept of training organisation was later popularised in the USA by Stone and colleagues in the early 1980s (Stone et al, 1981).
Since then, numerous coaches and scientists have assessed the effectiveness of different models of Periodisation, especially in terms of strength and power training (Kraemer et al, 2003, Rhea et al, 2003, Rhea et al, 2002). These studies have validated the use of Periodisation and more recently the concept of an Undulating Periodisation Model has been well supported both scientifically and anecdotally for strength and power development (Schlumberger et al, 2003, Stone, 2003, Hoffman et al, 1991, Baker et al, 2001). When applied to the sport of Rugby where several components of fitness and elements of practice have to be combined, the process of Periodisation becomes more complex.
An example of a macrocyle within a periodised Rugby model is outlined below (Table 9). This is typically that of an adult team participating in a 34-week season.
Table 9: A general macrocycle (a full season including the holiday period and pre-season)
The example in Table 9 is a simplified model and serves to identify three key elements of a periodised plan:
- The number of games scheduled and their spread throughout the year;
- The main periods of the year: holidays, pre-season and in-season;
- Regular unloading weeks where the volume of conditioning and field practice is reduced significantly so as to ensure that recovery from accumulated training, practice and match play occurs.