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Periodization training is a designed program involving the breakdown of training into different cycles throughout an athlete s preseason, season, and offseason. This technique was first designed for strength training, but has now been evolved to include the many components of any athlete s training needs. A basketball athlete has numerous obstacles in training to overcome to be a successful player, so the use of a periodization program would be a beneficial way to train.

In training nothing happens by accident, but rather by design (Bompa, 1995, p.95). Periodization training is a process of structuring training into phases, therefore, there is a design to it. It is designed to optimize strength and performance, while minimizing the potential for overtraining or injury. Basketball is a sport that involves strength and power, along with technique. For optimal results, basketball training should incorporate periodization training ideas.

Basics of Periodization

Periodization takes into account that athletes have different needs relative to training and conditioning during different seasons and modifies the program according to individual needs (Arnheim, 2000 p.76). A primary objective of training is for the athlete to reach peak performance at a specific time, usually the main competition of the year. To achieve this high level of performance, the entire training program must be properly periodized and planned so that development of skills and motor ability proceeds logically and methodically throughout the year (Bompa, 1999, p.83). Periodization takes this into account with its two basic components. The first component, periodization of the annual plan, pertains to how the year is divided into various training phases. The second component is how to structure strength training to maximize its effectiveness in meeting the needs of the specific sport. The latter of the two will be incorporated into the first by breaking down the annual plan into shorter more manageable components.

Periodization organizes a training and conditioning program into cycles. The macrocycle is referred to as one competition season that can range from one to even four years, like the Olympics. The idea behind the macrocycle is for the athlete to achieve peak level of fitness for competition by altering intensity, volume, and specificity of training (Arnheim, 2000). Training changes from high-volume, low-intensity, non-sport specific activity to low-volume, high-intensity, sport specific training when competition nears. These macrocycles are further divided into mesocycles that contain a transition period, a preparatory period, and a competition period.

The transition period begins after the last competition. The athlete is encouraged to participate in sport activities on a recreational basis. The transition period allows the athlete to escape both physically and psychologically from the intensity of competition (Arnheim, 2000). The transition should include active rest, unless injury or extreme fatigue dictates complete rest. This is an important period because it allows the athlete a period of time off to avoid becoming burnt out by the sport. However, the athlete should not cut-off all activity because it will lead to rapid loss of skill and fitness.

For serious athletes, the duration of the transition period should be no longer than four to six weeks, or many fitness benefits will diminish (Bompa, 1999, p.89). Athletes work hard to make gains in skill, general fitness, and strength. Therefore, athletes and coaches should remember that strength is hard to gain and easy to lose (Bompa, 1999, p.89). If athletes take a longer off-season they will more than likely experience detraining effects, resulting in the loss of most training gains and deteriorating most of the strength gains (Bompa, 1999). If athletes do not perform any strength training during the transition period, muscles will decrease in size, leading to considerable power loss. Since power and speed are interdependent, loss of speed will result as well (Bompa, 1999). These examples show it is really important for the athlete to remain active in the off-season, which will give the athlete a strong base when the preparatory period begins.

Following the transition period is the preparatory period which takes place during the off-season, when there are no upcoming competitions. The preparatory period is broken down into three additional phases: hypertrophy-endurance phase, the strength phase, and the power phase. The hypertrophy-endurance phase occurs during the beginning of the off-season and the training is at low-intensity, high-volume of repetitions (Bompa, 1999). Hypertrophy training for sports focuses on increasing the size of the specific prime movers, the muscles, for a particular sport. At this time activities may not directly relate to the sport. Hypertrophy training lasts for several weeks to even two months which allows the athlete to develop endurance, on which other more intense training can occur. Now that the endurance is built up, the strength phase begins, and weight training becomes sport specific (Bompa, 1999). Also, the intensity and volume progress to moderate levels. The last part of the preparatory period is the power phase. The power phase begins around the preseason and the athlete trains at high-intensity, near the level of competition. At the end of this preparatory period technique becomes the main emphasis of the program to lead the athlete into competition.

The final mesocycle of the overall macrocycle is the competition period. The competition period can last for several months, but varies with the number of competitions the specific sport has. At this point training occurs at high-intensity with a low-volume, allowing more time to be spent on skill training or strategy sessions. The athlete has the task of developing and stabilizing competition performance at the highest level possible. The tradition in many sports is to eliminate strength and conditioning training when the competitive season starts. However, if strength and conditioning are not maintained during the competitive period, athletes will experience the detraining effect. Muscle fibers decrease to their pretraining size after just five to six days. The detraining effect results in loss of power and speed, so it is essential for a coach to develop an efficient training program for the competitive period (Bompa, 1999). One way to maintain the athlete s strength and conditioning levels is by implementing the next part of periodization, the microcycle.

During the competition period microcycles can be established. These microcycles can last from one to seven days in the competition period and are adjusted to the competition schedule. During a microcycle training is intense early in the week, then progresses to moderate, and finally light the day before competition. This is a step-type progression and is a key component of in the design of the microcycle. A microcycle is a group of training sessions organized so that optimal training value can be gained for each session (Bompa, 1995). Microcycles change throughout the season depending on how far along the season is. The goal is to make sure that the athlete will be at peak levels of fitness and performance on days of competition (Arnheim, 2000, p.77).

Basic Principles of Training and Conditioning

As with any training and conditioning program there are some key principles that should be stressed to all athletes: 1) Each bout of training should begin with a warm-up before any activity is started; 2) A cooldown period after training is essential to help avoid injury; 3) Most athletes are motivated when it comes to sport because it is generally their decision to be there. A coach needs to maintain the motivation within the athlete; 4) By varying training and techniques into a periodization plan, the program can remain enjoyable rather than becoming routine and boring; 5) Although overload is a critical factor in training and conditioning, the stress must not be great enough to produce damage or injury before the body has time to adjust specifically to the increased demands (Arnheim, 2000); 6) The athlete must engage in a training and conditioning program at a consistent, regularly scheduled basis if it is to be effective; 7) The intensity of the conditioning program should follow a progression and increase gradually with the individual athlete s ability to adapt to increasing workloads. The intensity of the work should be stressed rather than the quantity of the workout; 8) Specific goals should be developed to address components of fitness relative to the sport in which the athlete is competing; 9)Since individual athletes vary considerably, adjustments of the training program must be made according to each individual athlete; 10) The safety of the athlete is the most important part of the training program. Time should be taken to educate the athlete on proper technique, about how the athlete should feel during a workout, and when the athlete should push harder or back off (Arnheim, 2000).

Periodization Training as it Relates to Basketball

Proper conditioning and training are essential for any basketball program to be successful. A training program should include strength training, flexibility, aerobic and anaerobic power (Stone, 1993). Because basketball demands that a player be strong, quick and agile, there are many components of a basketball athlete s training. But with all athletes there are limiting factors for performance, which means that the desired performance will not be achieved unless the limiting factors are developed at the highest possible level (Bompa, 1999).

The limiting factors for basketball athletes are take-off power, acceleration power, and power endurance. Take-off power depends on the athlete s vertical force applied against the ground in order to defeat the pull of gravity. Take-off power is usually twice as much as the athlete s weight and the athlete s attempts to project the body at the highest point, or reach the best height, like in rebounding (Bompa, 1993). Acceleration power is used two to three seconds after the start of the run with the athlete attempting to reach the highest acceleration possible. Acceleration power Depends on the power and the quickness of muscle contraction to drive the arms and legs to the highest stride frequency, shortest contact phase when the leg reaches the ground, and the highest propulsion when the leg pushes against the ground for a powerful forward drive (Bompa, 1993, p.18). Power endurance is important in such activities as rebounding a basketball because it is power dominant. Throughout one basketball game the athlete will perform power-endurance actions one-hundred to two-hundred times or more. Although it is important to jump high to rebound, it is equally important to duplicate such a jump 200 times per game (Bompa, 1999, p.9). So for a basketball athlete it is best to train for both power and power-endurance. The limiting factors discussed above are improved during the preparatory and competition phases.

The preparatory period usually starts six to eight weeks before the first official basketball practice. During the preparatory period both anaerobic and aerobic conditioning occur to achieve a base for the athlete. Anaerobic power involves the delivery of energy for physical activity at a rate, without oxygen, for a limited period of time (Stone, 1993). In the case of basketball such moves as driving, jumping, shooting, and rebounding use anaerobic power. To achieve a strong base for anaerobic power, a training program should emphasize high-intensity interval work with repeated bouts of recovery (Stone, 2000). The specific anaerobic training intervals for basketball should involve a work time of five to six seconds at eighty to one-hundred percent maximum, with a rest time of twenty seconds to three minutes, and repeating this around ten to twenty times (Stone, 2000). Aerobic power is the ability to deliver oxygen to the tissues during prolonged bouts of exercise (Stone, 2000, p. 175). Increasing the aerobic power of the basketball player is very important to the total conditioning program. Aerobic power enables the athlete to play and practice longer at higher intensities. The specific aerobic training intervals for basketball should involve a work time of one to two minutes at eighty percent maximum, with one to three minutes of rest, and repeating five to ten times (Stone, 2000). The game of basketball usually involves continuous aerobic power with frequent bursts of anaerobic power, so both energy systems are essential.

The base for a basketball players muscular strength is made in the preparatory phase of the periodization training program. Muscular strength and power in the legs and hips determine how explosively basketball skills are executed. Rebounding, jump shooting, shot blocking, dunking, and driving lay-ups are all examples of the importance of muscular power in basketball (Stone, 2000, p. 176). Muscular strength and endurance guidelines for a basketball athlete shift depending on the period of the season. The guidelines are further split into muscular strength, power, and endurance. For muscular strength it is recommended the athlete perform three to five sets with three to five repetitions. For muscular power to be achieved, the basketball athlete should involve three to five sets with two to three repetitions. For muscular endurance it is recommended to perform sets of two to three with ten to twenty repetitions should be performed.

Flexibility is the ability to move a joint through its full range of motion. Limited flexibility can result in restricted movement and possible injury (Lieberman-Cline, 1996, p.53). To achieve a high amount of flexibility, slow static stretching is suggested because there is less chance of muscle soreness and injury. Before stretching the athlete should warm-up because temperature effects flexibility. Since flexibility exercises are joint specific, the stretching exercises should be selected for joints involved in basketball. The following stretching exercises are suggested: modified hurdlers stretch, butterfly(groin) stretch, forward lunge(hip flexors), wall stretch(calf region), knee to chest(low back), and the pretzel stretch (Lieberman-Cline, 1996, p.53). A coach can easily incorporate flexibility training into a program since it can be enhanced by stretching, a component every coach should teach.

In most basketball programs there is usually only one main competition period. During this part of the season the structure of proper microcycles is essential. A high-intensity, high-volume practice would not be appropriate the day before a competition. A low-intensity, low-volume practice would be most beneficial for the athlete, allowing time to prepare mentally for the game. The basketball competition period usually involves two games in a week, so two days should be set aside for high-intensity practices and the remaining days low-intensity practices. The strength training should be Limited to one to two sets of three exercises at 70 percent of the one rep max, or a maximum of 15 to 20 minutes (Bompa, 1999, p.209).

The transition period is a time for the basketball athlete to recover, but it is also the time when the most progress can be made in strength, endurance, speed, and quickness. During this time there is no holding back because there is considerable time before the next competition. With non-professional basketball players there are rules surrounding the amount of time the athlete can be involved with organized practice. With the use of a structured training plan, the coach can encourage the athlete to be involved with individual workouts during the off-season. To maintain a decent level of fitness, athletes should train two to three times a week during the transition period. Remember that it takes less effort to maintain 40 to 50 percent of the previous fitness level than to start developing it from zero (Bompa, 1999, p.210). Throughout the competitive and transition periods the same aerobic and anaerobic conditioning principles for basketball are used from the preparatory period. A training and conditioning program is designed to build strength, stamina, and endurance from the ground up. If the athlete works through the off-season/transition period, and keeps the pace going throughout the preseason/preparatory period, the athlete will be prepared when the season/competition period arrives.

Although periodization was developed primarily for strength training, the basic concepts of the program can be applied to all competitive sports and the overall training that occurs. It is up to the coach and the athlete to put it all together to make the best possible program. To design a periodization training program the coach needs to look at the three factors of training and how they relate to the specific sport. The three contributing factors to be considered with any sport are: the dominant energy system(s) involved, the limiting factor(s) for performance, and the training objective(s) the coach wants to establish (Bompa, 1999). Once these factors are all considered by the coach, it is then possible to develop a periodization model of training for the specific sport.

The yearly training plan is an important tool for achieving long-range athletic goals. In planning the coach should be more concerned with deciding what kind of physiological response or training adaptation will lead to the greatest improvements, than with deciding what drills or skills to work on in a given training session or period (Bompa, 1999, p. 84). Only by considering these physiological factors will the coach be able to choose an approach that will result in the best training adaptation and ultimately lead to increases in physiological capacity and improved athletic performance (Bompa, 1999, p.85). Such an innovated approach can best be facilitated by periodization and it is possible to use the periodization technique to design a training program for a variety of sports, including basketball. An organized and well-planned periodization plan will accomplish the main objective of training. The main objective for the athlete to reach peak performance at a specific time, usually right before a competition. When a basketball athlete follows a periodized training model the development of skills and motor abilities reach optimal levels of training.


Arnheim, D., & Prentice, W. (2000). Principles of Athletic Training. Boston: Mcgraw-Hill

Bompa, Tudor. (1999). Periodization Training for Sports. Champaign: Human Kinetics.

Bompa, Tudor. (1998). Serious Strength Training. Champaign: Human Kinetics.

Bompa, Tudor O. (1995). Periodization of Strength: The New Wave of Strength Training. Toronto: Veritas.

Bompa, Tudor. (1990). Theory and Methodology of Training: The Key to Athletic Performance. Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt.

Bompa, Tu., Bompa, Ta., & Zivic, T. (1981). Fitness and Body Development Exercises. Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt.

Freeman, William H. (1989). Peak When it Counts: Periodization for American Track and Field. Los Altos: Tafnews Press.

Gallahue, David L., & Ozmun, John C. (1997). Understanding Motor Development: Infants, Children, Adolescents, Adults. Boston: WCB McGraw-Hill

., N., & Roberts, R. (1996). Basketball for Women: Becoming a Complete Player. Champaign: Human Kinetics.

Stone, William J., & Steingard, Paul M. (1993). Year-Round Conditioning for Basketball. Clinics in Sports Medicine,12(2), 173-191.

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