Periodisation for Sport

Lets set the scene…

The sport of fitness is the goal.

We’ve challenged the athlete’s intentions, checked resources and established growth potential.

We’ve estimated a realistic timeframe for a peak expression in their sport, and we’ve confirmed some key competitive milestones along the way.

Now, how do we proceed?

Do we jump in with both feet from the off and practice the sport hard? Hoping that that spits them out on a podium one day?

No. We know more now.

Models of periodisation for sport have been around for much longer than the sport of fitness.

The challenge with this sport: The training that supports most sporting pursuits is actually the modality of this sport itself. This means that we have to be a little more specific around what constitutes ‘sport’ and what constitutes ‘training’ in this setting.

As a general rule of periodisation, the further away from competition, the less like the sport the training should be.

In the sport of fitness this means that ‘off-season’ should focus on accumulating [functional] volume of skills, enhancing aerobic capacity, reducing stress, create consistency, assessing and addressing mechanical limitations, and having fun playing and exploring different methods of movement expression along the way.

Another general rule is that the higher the peak expression [usually linked closely to training age] the longer this base phase should be.


The higher the the peak expression, the more costly it becomes [impact on entire system and requirement for recovery].

Adaptation and progress developed over each year in the sport is facilitated by this phase. Skip it and there’s a limit to expression when it comes to game time. That limit can show itself as a breakdown of skill, a lack of strength, low endurance of that strength, a lack of speed of expression of all of those things, or a lack of ability to recover between events.

What goes into PD in order to maximise all of those things in a finite window of time is complex, and impossible to summarise here. But I think we can safely say that jumping straight back into the fire now is the definite pathway to a mediocre performance next time around.

If you want to learn more about periodisation, then be sure to check out our level 3 personal trainer course.