Integrating Long And Short Term Planning (Excerpted from Chapter 6 - Putting it All Together: Developing the Training Plan)

Many coaches rely on long term planning to form the foundation, filling in the details of ever shorter periods of training on the basis of the decisions that were made regarding the longer term plan. Other coaches plan only the next workout or week on the basis of the athlete’s present condition. Yet neither of these approaches is optimal because both short and long term planning are necessary to achieve optimal results. Therefore the key to successful planning is to employ both methods. Many expert coaches who use the long or short term approach as their basis for planning learn to compensate for the deficiencies of the approach they use (the long term planner by making adjustments as he or she goes along to assure that the long term plan does not sacrifice the short term needs of the athlete, and the short term planner by assuring that any short term plan will fit into the longer term needs of the athlete). But such an approach relies on the "gut" of the coach to recognize when adjustments are made. The less experienced coach, or the more experienced one who does not wish to rely completely on his or her instincts to tell him or her when things are going astray, needs a more explicit method for resolving conflict between long and short term plans.

What method is there for doing this? Surely a coach cannot do both forms of planning at the same time. If short and long term planning are performed separately, how does the coach tie the results of both processes together? Moreover, when each method implies different training prescriptions, which method should have precedence? These are difficult questions, some of which cannot be answered scientifically. They are at the root of the art of coaching. Nevertheless, there are some important guidelines that help lead the coach through these difficult judgments. Three key processes underlie the effective coordination of long and short term approaches to planning: a) identification of the objectives of a specific period of training on the basis of the individual needs of the athlete; b) applying the techniques of long and short term planning in the proper sequence; and, c) using iteration between the long and short term perspectives to integrate them together into a unified and effective whole.


Copyright 1998 A is A Communications. All rights reserved.
Revised: February 15, 1998