Periodization theory: confronting an inconvenient truth
Periodization theory has, over the past seven decades, emerged as the preeminent training planning paradigm. The philosophical underpinnings of periodization theory can be traced back to the integration of diverse shaping influences, whereby coaching beliefs and traditions were blended with historically available scientific insights and contextualized against pervading social planning models. Since then, many dimensions of elite preparation have evolved significantly, as driven by a combination of coaching innovations and science-led advances in training theory, techniques, and technologies. These advances have been incorporated into the fabric of the pre-existing periodization planning framework, yet the philosophical assumptions underpinning periodization remain largely unchallenged and unchanged. One particularly influential academic sphere of study, the science of stress, particularly the work of Hans Selye, is repeatedly cited by theorists as a central pillar upon which periodization theory is founded. A fundamental assumption emanating from the early stress research is that physical stress is primarily a biologically mediated phenomenon: a presumption translated to athletic performance contexts as evidence that mechanical training stress directly regulates the magnitude of subsequent ‘fitness’ adaptations. Interestingly, however, since periodization theory first emerged, the science of stress has evolved extensively from its historical roots. This raises a fundamental question: if the original scientific platform upon which periodization theory was founded has disintegrated, should we critically re-evaluate conventional perspectives through an updated conceptual lens? Realigning periodization philosophy with contemporary stress theory thus presents us with an opportunity to recalibrate training planning models with both contemporary scientific insight and progressive coaching practice.
PublicationSports Medicine 48, pp. 753–764
Sustainable development goals
- (3) Good Health and Well-being
Department or School
- Physical Education and Sports Science