Periodised annual plans…we all sat through the lectures during our coaching qualification courses about how to write one. We all know we need to have one. Some of us have even followed through and written one, but how do you make sure it remains a living, breathing document that drives your programme forward on a weekly basis?
Here are some simple strategies to keep your Annual Plan in focus:
1. Keep it simple. The more straightforward your annual plan is the more likely it will be implemented.
2. If you work in a team of coaches, Head Coaches should convene a weekly meeting and ensure that a standing agenda item for that meeting remains:
- What is our technique focus for the week?
- What phase of training are we in right now?
- What is our target volume?
- What is our intensity target?
- How many weeks until our major focus meet?
- Any minor meets to be prepared for?
3. Whenever you change training phases include in your staff meeting a quick discussion/training on the new phase. Share ideas about the type of training which is applicable for that Phase and share good ideas and sets as a group. This helps to refresh everyone’s memory of best practice and ensures training sets stay fresh and inspiring for the athletes. Remember if you run an Annual plan with two peaks you might only coach a certain phase for two, four week blocks a year… it’s easy to forget what works.
4. Share your annual plan with your athletes. Even age groupers can understand the simple idea of progressing from a General Phase to a Strength Endurance Phase to a Specific Phase then Tapering for Competition. This information can often help athletes through tough endurance blocks and push them to work harder in the specific phase as they begin to appreciate that their “D Day” is drawing nearer. Dedicating a small corner of your Whiteboard/Website/Noticeboard to a count- down to your next major meet and a simple annual plan helps to educate swimmers and parent’s on your coaching process and increases buy-in.
5. Think outside the box and celebrate your progression through the annual plan. Quirky fun ideas include:
- Having your swimmers all swim in black swim suits and caps during the biggest volume week of the cycle “Hell Week”. Better yet go into camp that week if you can fit it around a school holidays.
- Celebrate milestone weeks such as 5, 10 or 15 weeks to go until your Major Meet with a session dedicated to all reps of the number.
6. Be reflective. After each cycle and major meet review your performance. Have all your swimmers complete a checking swim to ensure your taper worked. Also have them complete a performance review. Survey your swimmers and parents to gather as much data as possible to make the next cycle of training bigger and better.
7. Rest! It is super important to take time to recover and regenerate, always be sure to build in a transition period between major cycles for all involved. Coaches need time to rest and recharge, athletes need time to recover physically and mentally. If it’s not possible to completely stop be creative and include some different training to allow for mental if not physical recovery such as Water polo, open water training or something as simple as a change of venue.
This article has been previously published by the Australian Swimming Coaches and Teachers Association.