by contibuting partner: Brian Smith, Head Coach Lone Star Gymnastics, Ft. Worth Texas.
I have sat in many lectures discussing Year Round Planning for competitive athletes and I am always shocked at how complicated the lecturers seem to make it for the people in their lectures. I have been taught from a young age to Keep It Simple Stupid or K. I. S. S. and that is what I want to do for everyone here.
There are four major parts to a great plan and each one is very purposeful in what it is trying to accomplish with the athletes. Each part here should be communicated effectively with the athletes and the parents so that they know where they are and what the purpose of each phase is. You will also be able to provide a sense of urgency with your athletes and give a reason to the parents about why you are so adamant that they be at each practice. We are always lacking time in the gym and we do not want to waste the time we have by not being prepared for the athlete’s when they walk through the door.
The first part that I want to discuss with you is the Skill Development phase of the season. The Skill development phase is where we want the athlete’s to LEARN and MASTER the bulk of the new skills for the season. It is very important that this part is labeled and communicated well with the parents, athletes, and the other coaches in the gym so that everyone understands that this is the time of year we need to be IN THE GYM WORKING on MASTERING new skills.
The Second part that we need inside of our plan is the Pre – Season/Meet Prep phase. To put it simply we are just preparing the skills and skill combinations for routines. Once again I want to stress the importance of putting this inside of your training plan so you can look at the athletes and their parents and say “This is why it is important for you to be here during this part of the year”. Preparing for the season correctly will make sure that you are not bogged down with putting routines together for the whole year.
The third part of a training plan is the Mid – Season/Invitational phase of the season. This phase is where the athletes go and get experience by doing routines and new skills on the competition floor. During this phase you should have athletes continuing to develop new skills and continue to add them into routines. It is important for coaches and athletes to understand that they are still developing skills at this phase of the season and are working towards their peak performance at the state/regional/national levels.
The last phase that we need to plan for is the Championship phase. During this phase we are wanting the athletes to perform to the best of their ability at the biggest competitions of the season. During this phase we will be cutting out extra skill work, making sure the basics shine in their routines, and be focusing on making sure the athletes are mentally and physically ready for the competitions. This is what the whole year has been about and we want the athletes to have a feeling of accomplishment walking into this phase.
The next part will be about preparing for the competition season and will be more specific about what things will need to be your Pre – Season/Meet prep plan.
Stay tuned for Part 2 where you will get a FREE Training Planner!