Periodization for tactical populations

Document Type

Book Chapter


Human Kinetics Publishers

Place of Publication

Champaign, IL




Originally published as: Haff, G.G. (2017). Periodization for tactical populations. In Alvar, B.A., Sell, K., Deuster, P.A., & (Eds.), NSCA's essentials of tactical strength and conditioning (pp. 181-204). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. Original article available here


One of the key concepts in the preparation of athletes is periodized training. These training plans are essential when attempting to optimize the performance of tactical athletes (5, 68). Although periodization is a widely accepted concept, there is a large degree of confusion in both the scientific (1, 60, 61) and practical literature (17, 44) when trying to determine what periodization is and how to employ it. At the center of this confusion is a misinterpretation of the classic periodization literature, the terminology adopted by some scientists and practitioners, and the modern trend of isolating training factors without considering how they are integrated within a training period or phase (i.e., vertical integration ) or sequenced over time (i.e., horizontal integration ) (27-29). Critical evaluation of the classic literature reveals that a true periodization model should exhibit nonlinearity, sequential variation (i.e., horizontal integration), and integration within a time period (i.e., vertical integration) of all training activities in order to optimize performance at predetermined time points related to the operational plan (5, 33, 47, 54, 55). Attention to these tenets removes training linearity and monotony in order to maximize the tactical athlete’s development. To accomplish these goals, consideration must also be given to the logical application of training stressors so as to minimize any interference by one training factor on another. Many classic periodization theorists emphasize that the training process must contain logical and systematic sequential or phasic alterations in workload, training focus, and training tasks in order to ensure that appropriate adaptations are stimulated to create the desired performance outcomes (2, 3, 6, 7, 34, 48-50, 54-56). Scientific inquiry has supported these earlier observations by revealing that sequential modeling results in superior physiological and performance outcomes (36, 51, 81). It is clear that periodization models used by tactical athletes must be nonlinear, have integrated training factors, be sequenced over time, progress loads logically, avoid random or excessive variation, and target specific training outcomes as determined by the athlete’s operational plan.