In simple terms, periodization in basketball is all about planning. But, it is a special and specific kind of planning, with the purpose of providing your team with the best chance possible to do well. When it is planned properly and implemented well, periodization is a great component of essentially all successful programs. On the flip side, the chances of negative conflict arising within the team are increased, since there is additional stress, and players are more prone to injury.

One important thing to note of is that periodization for junior teams is totally different than it is for professional teams. At first glance, that might seem obvious. However, it is still worth mentioning. The ideas I share with you here will serve as an introduction to the subject of periodization.

Training Phases
The first significant portion of your planning involves reviewing the three phases that your team will go through over the course of a season. The three training phases are:

– The Preparation or Pre-Season Phase
– The Competition Phase
– Transition Phase or Post Season

The Preparation or Pre-Season Phase is building the foundation on which to base your entire season around. During this phase, you will build up your team for the challenges that are demanded by your regular season training. Your preparations will focus on all aspects of your training program, including psychological, physiological (conditioning and strength), tactical and technical. Early in this phase your tactical elements will be limited, as athletes are developing their physiological endurance at this time.

Right before your team’s competitive season starts, the competition phase begins. Your team is very active during this phase, and attempting to peak during the season’s pivotal points. For example, you want your team’s physical fitness to peak close to the post season instead of peaking at the beginning of the season and then have the intensity of the team to burn out at the most crucial time of the entire season.

The Transition Phase or Post Season is the time right after the season (post as well as regular) is over. During this time frame, athletes might be engaged in activities like individualized training plans and injury recovery to address any potential problems. Senior athletes tend to spend this time developing new individual or technical skills. During this time, junior athletes might participate in alternative activities or sports. For example, they might play a different sport in the summer than they do in the winter to keep in shape all around the year.

Training Sub-Phases
If you drill down even further, several sub-phases are possible to be used for helping with details that need to be added to the periodization of the team. The Preparation Phase or Pre-Season can be divided into two different sub-phases, which are referred to as the specific and general phase. These sub-phases help with defining the kinds of activities, the range of activities and intensity that need to be done to reach the defined goals. During the general sub-phase, athletes are getting prepared for positions of readiness so that they can start with more focused and intense training. Examples of these kinds of activities are conditioning training and individual skill development.

During the sub-phases, training keeps increasing in intensity and includes more drills that are sports specific. Also, psychological, physiological, tactical (team) and technical (individual) elements are brought into play from the complete training planning. During this phase, intensity won’t be high. Instead, it will be moderate or low as training capacity continues being developed.

Two sub-phases can help to define the activities within the completion planning phase. The first one is called the pre-competition sub-phase. It refers to the period right before season starts and also includes the first few rounds in the season. It would be around four or five weeks before the season starts, along with one to two rounds of the season. Training intensity rises to a new level during this subphase and simulates the season’s requirements. Conditioning gets more demanding, and tactical focus is more prevalent during the training sessions.

The competition for the title is the second sub-phase. This period is the regular season and postseason. During this subphase is when the team should map the times when they want their performance to peak and work to reach those high-performance points and then return into maintaining their psychological, physiological, tactical and technical elements for the other times.

The Transition Phase or Post Season is usually not broken down into sub-phases the way the other two phases are.

Macrocycles & Microcycles
Macrocycles add the next level of detail within your planning to think about. They depend on various milestones or landmarks within a season, therefore, they usually are three to eight weeks long. In many programs macrocycles are part of the programs planning months.

Microcycles are the last level of detail that are added to the periodization plan. Usually, microcycles last a week and provide detailed tasks that add to the overall plan. During these stages, the knowledge and experience of the coach about the specific topic they’re training for is where the strength lies. By targeting areas and planning content out, coaches can better manage a program’s overall depth and what it can offer to the athletes.

Intensity and Volume
Overall, there are two core points that periodization can be used in any cycle or phase with great effect. Those are Intensity and Volume. Intensity and Volume help with increasing how difficult sessions are to complete and the demands placed on athletes. Increasing the volume can involve increasing the number of repetitions required, which improves the abilities of athletes. Intensity refers to the pace that is used for performing the tasks. Depending on what a program’s needs are, both of these need to be taken into consideration if the coach wants each training session to involve quantity as well as quality as part of the process.