SHANE RICE: Maximizing performance: The power of tactical and gym periodization in sports training

IN the realm of sports coaching, the concept of tactical and gym periodization stands as a strategic cornerstone for optimising team performance. As we gear up for the 2024 season, understanding and implementing this method can significantly elevate our club team’s prowess.

Tactical and gym periodization revolves around finely dividing the season into distinct phases, each tailored to hone specific aspects crucial for competitive success.

Our roadmap for 2024 comprises off-season, pre-season, early season, league and cup and championship stages, each holding a unique focus for both tactical preparation and physical conditioning.

The off-season marks a pivotal period aimed at rectifying player weaknesses while excluding direct tactical training. Here, players devote themselves to rigorous gym sessions, emphasising functional hypertrophy training and extended, lower-intensity running to fortify their physical foundations.

Transitioning into pre-season and early Season, the emphasis shifts towards on-field technical finesse and muscular endurance in the weight room.

Training drills concentrate on accelerations, agility, and maximum speed, often assessed through fitness tests such as the 1.2km run or broncos to gauge maximal aerobic capabilities.

Once the league campaign kicks off, attention on the pitch steers towards principles of play, slightly de-emphasising technical aspects. Simultaneously, gym routines pivot to strength-oriented lifting with heavier intensity and reduced volume.

Refining max speed involves meticulous GPS monitoring via flies and off-pitch drills like hill sprints to enhance acceleration.

Throughout the league campaign, a strategic blend of large, medium, and small-sided games becomes pivotal, with variations in intensity. Monitoring players’ perceived exertion (RPE) aids in judiciously incorporating these sessions alongside matches, ensuring optimal performance without burnout.

As the championship looms closer, the gym regimen evolves toward power-centric exercises while maintaining intensity. Tests like the Countermovement Jump (CMJ) gauge improved power, and the volume of gym work diminishes while preserving intensity. Fitness conditioning is honed through tempos, Maximum Aerobic Speed (MAS) protocols and ASR which is combining speed and endurance to refine player conditioning.

Entering the championship phase, the gym routine further shifts, focusing on tapering off before crucial games. Tactical training intensifies, with large-sided games meticulously simulating game scenarios and principles of play, refining the team’s collective strategy.

Critical to this approach is an overarching commitment to periodization over varying timeframes – 12 months, monthly, and weekly.

Additionally, replicating match-day scenarios during training remains paramount, fostering a seamless transition from practice to game situations.

Ultimately, the essence lies in training smarter and harder, strategically aligning tactical preparation with physical conditioning across the season’s phases.

The 2024 campaign presents an opportunity to harness the power of tactical and gym periodization, sculpting our team into a force to be reckoned with on the field.

l Shane Rice, Founder of GAA Periodization, Parnells Senior Men’s Coach & Foxrock Cabinteely LGFA Coach

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