High School Struggle: Periodization


Many wrestlers approach conditioning in a disorganized and messy manner with no clear goals in mind. This may be a mistake. Periodization is a concept designed to help you divide your conditioning into phases or cycles in which you focus on certain training goals. Periodization is designed to help you achieve peak performance. Peak performance is virtually impossible to maintain year-round. Therefore, you divide your training into cycles, including rest cycles. Of course, you want to win every game. That is a desirable goal. But, most of the high school wrestlers especially want to qualify for the state tournament or even win the state tournament. Therefore, it is generally towards the end of the competitive season that one wants to peak.

What is periodization?

Periodization is a training concept that was popularized by the Eastern Bloc countries, especially Russia. The concept of periodization that is used with regard to sports training is generally attributed to a Russian professor named Matveyev. Matveyev was the first to use the term periodization. Periodization is often associated with weight training, but it can also be used to train other athletic attributes. As I said earlier, periodization is simply dividing training into cycles or phases that focus on certain goals (for example, strength or endurance). The main objective of periodization is to help an athlete reach the maximum level for a certain challenge (for example, the state wrestling tournament).

Tudor Bompa, known as the “father of periodization,” wrote a book titled Periodization: Training Theory and Methodology. Tudor Bompa divides the annual training into three simple phases.

Three phases:

  • Preparatory phrase
  • Competitive phase
  • Transition phase

However, these three phases can be further broken down. The annual plan of a fighter is also known as a macrocycle. The macrocycle can be divided into mesocycles (i.e. preparatory, competitive, and transitional). Each mesocycle can be divided into microcycles (for example, a week). On the other hand, more than one macrocycle can be used during a fighting season because you may have more than one major competition where you want to peak.

Types of periodization:

  • Linear
  • Inverse linear
  • Conjugate
  • Competitor
  • Undulating or alternating

The type of periodization familiar to most athletes is linear periodization. Linear periodization usually begins with a higher volume of general work and then culminates with more intense and sport-specific work.

A typical linear periodization plan for wrestling:

  • High School: Lifting weights for sets in the 8-10 rep range, running long distances, and doing high volume wrestling.
  • Competitive – Weightlifting for sets in the 4-6 rep range, sprinting, more intense but less bulky fighting, peaking for competition
  • Transition: take a couple of weeks off before starting to train again

This is just a very simple example of periodization for wrestling. Wrestling is different from other sports because you can fight in many tournaments during the season. You may have to prioritize some competitions (for example, the conference tournament and the district tournament). Mark Ginther believes in periodization. You may want to run an online search for Mark Ginther’s periodization and Tudor Bompa’s periodization.

Some have argued that periodization is too complicated and impractical. For example, the ideal is to be “in shape” all season and win all the games and tournaments. Also, macrocycles, mesocycles, and microcycles can seem a bit elaborate and puzzling. However, it is difficult to try to maintain the best conditions throughout the year or even throughout the season. Also, some high school students are multiple athletes. A student athlete may compete on track in the spring, baseball in the summer, football in the fall, and wrestling in the winter. Each of these sports will have its own demands. Therefore, trying to use periodization for wrestling may seem impractical. However, Tudor Bompa believes that the alternative to periodization is “chaos.”

I would suggest reading about the different types of periodization. Some coaches believe that an athlete can train for strength, endurance, and other attributes simultaneously, while others cannot. In my opinion, you should try to keep periodization simple. The main thing to remember is that periodization is simply planning your training. For example, you may want to do some longer runs during the off-season (eg, summer) and switch to sprints during the competitive season. You probably don’t start out with a lot of hard fighting in your first few practices. You may need to work on the technique at first and increase its volume and intensity over time. Also, you may want to have a less intense practice the night before a major competition to be refreshed and refreshed to fight hard the next day.

In sports such as swimming and marathon running, athletes often have a “set-up” in which their training volume is reduced during the final days or even weeks before a major competition. You, as a wrestler, may need some less intense practice and conditioning leading up to a major competition.

As you can see, periodization can be a tricky concept. However, planning your annual workout using cycles with certain goals in mind will almost certainly help you in your wrestling endeavors.

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